Athens Defeats Troy For First Time Since 2006 in Annual Rivalry Game
The Red Hawks finish the regular season 7-2 as they head into the playoffs.
Another strong effort from the Troy Athens High School running game was the difference as the Red Hawks defeated Troy High School, 31-13, in an Oakland Activities Association Red Division football matchup Friday night.
Athens (7-2, 5-2 Red) clinched a third place finish in the OAA Red Division with the win, and the Red Hawks will have a chance to host a playoff game next week against an undetermined opponent. Playoff matchups will be announced on Sunday night.
Led by Sam Haskell’s 123 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, Athens earned its first win against cross-town rival Troy (3-6, 3-4 OAA Red) since 2006. For seniors like Haskell, getting their first win over Troy was huge.
“We didn’t take them lightly,” Haskell said. “Even though we had the playoffs (clinched) we still came out here and gave it our all.”
Athens coach Josh Heppner said he was impressed with the way the Red Hawks ran the ball and with the play of Haskell in particular. The Red Hawks outgained Troy on the ground, 240-180.
“Sam Haskell is amazing, along with all of the other (running backs) that we have,” Heppner said. “We still have some work that we have to do with our power backfield, but we’ll find that guy to replace (injured running back) Lonnie Jaynes. Hopefully Lonnie will be back in a couple weeks and we’ll be good to go.”
Senior quarterback Ben Bartnowak and running back Lonnie Bolden also scored rushing touchdowns, and Sandy Mouch added a 30-yard field goal to round out the scoring for Athens. Bartnowak also added 159 yards on 8-of-13 passing.
“All that hard work in the offseason paid off,” Bartnowak said. “It finally feels like we accomplished something this year that hasn’t been done in a while.”
Athens led 14-6 at halftime, but a 33-yard touchdown run by Troy quarterback Justin Losey brought the Colts within four points midway through the third quarter. That was as close as Troy would get however, as the Athens defense shut down the Colts’ offense the rest of the way.
Heppner said the Troy offense caught the Red Hawks off-guard in the early part of the game, but they were able to settle down and make some changes.
“Our secondary’s been riding high on how they’ve been playing, and (Troy) got some decent throws in on us, but we shut down the run and made some adjustments,” Heppner said. “They do a great job running it, and if you face teams like that you have to be able to shut it down.”
For Troy, four straight losses to end the year will mean the Colts will not be making a trip to the postseason. Troy coach Gary Griffith said the team played with great effort, but too many big plays given up doomed the Colts in the end.
“It’s really frustrating, and I feel bad for the kids,” Griffith said. “I honestly believe we are a better team than we showed the last three weeks.”
Griffith said he and his coaching staff will work on making changes, both offensively and defensively, in preparation for next season.
“We’re going to evaluate where we are and what we’re doing, and try and (determine) what are our pluses and minuses and what can we do.”