Troy Athens and Troy High Prepare For Annual Football Showdown
Playoff-bound Athens will try to beat Troy for the first time since 2006 in annual rivalry game.
Last week, Athens clinched its first playoff berth since 2004 with a 13-12 win over Southfield in an Oakland Activities Association crossover game. The win gave the Red Hawks a 6-2 record, and teams with six wins automatically qualify for the MHSAA state playoffs.
Troy Athens has improved each season under the guidance of third-year coach Josh Heppner, who said taking the next step and making the playoffs was huge for the program.
“Being able to do something like this just helps that belief, helps that buy-in factor that you’re trying to get from your players and the program,” Heppner said. “If you can turn things around like this in such a short time, it just makes it easier to get these guys committed in the offseason to do the things you need them to do to make sure you keep it rolling.”
With a playoff berth already clinched, this week’s game against Troy will be an opportunity to gain some bragging rights over the Red Hawks’ cross-town rival. Athens’s last win against Troy came in the 2006 season.
“If you look at the history of Troy vs. Athens, Troy dominates,” Heppner said. “We have worked so hard to get to where we are and to lose against Troy High would be just unfortunate, so (we) are going to do everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
For Troy High, the season hasn’t gone the way the Colts had hoped it would. After a 42-13 win at West Bloomfield on Sept. 23, Troy’s record stood at 3-2, however three straight losses have dropped the Colts’ record to 3-5 entering Friday’s game.
Even though the Colts are out of playoff contention, Troy High coach Gary Griffith said his team will be fired up to play Athens.
“Regardless of what the records are, this for us is our Michigan-Michigan State game, our Ohio State-Michigan game,” Griffith said. “This is our rivalry game, and the kids are going to be excited to play.”
Griffith said this matchup will be especially meaningful for Troy’s seniors who will be playing their final high school game.
“This is going to be the last taste they have of high school football,” Griffith said. “You always want to try and play a great game the last game so the kids go out on a positive note and they look back fondly and have some memories of that last rivalry game against Athens.”
Kickoff for Friday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m.