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Red Hawks ready to rally

Troy Athens football looking to make a move

Published September 26, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Troy Athens quarterback Jake Nelson looks for an opening Sept. 21 at West Bloomfield High. The Red Hawks won 24-16.

TROY — The Troy Athens football team’s goal is simple: win the rest of its games on the schedule.

The Red Hawks are 1-4 overall and 1-3 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division, meaning their hope for making the playoffs is based solely on playoff points and not guaranteed with a 5-4 finish.

“Hopefully, the state would take into consideration where we’ve been and where we’re going. But we have a ton to prove,” coach Josh Heppner said. “I think we’ll be OK. It was a very tough start to our season, but I think we’re playing some teams now that match up with us a little more evenly.”

In the Red Hawks’ four losses, three came from teams that are a combined 15-0.

Against Lake Orion High and Clarkston High, both undefeated, Heppner said his squad was battling toe-to-toe with each in the first half before costly mistakes eventually turned the tide. Athens lost 68-20 and 42-6, respectively.

“We’ll get a drive going or we’ll have plays wide open, and we’ll be one block away from busting a big one, or one read away from making the right throw or reading the right block,” he said.

Heppner admits the season has been filled with frustration from the small misses each game, but also optimism because he knows the squad is close to showing how good it really is on Friday nights.

“I see the talent that we do have. It’s just grasping the plays, the concepts,” he said. “We just have to make sure that we do what we need to do.”

Athens beat West Bloomfield High 24-16 Sept. 21 on the road, giving Heppner more hope that the Red Hawks are on the rise.

“We went from a team that wasn’t going to play four full quarters to a team that is going to fight until the end. That’s the biggest thing,” the coach said.

Seniors defensive back Joe Shields said he can feel a difference in practice.

“The morale, I would say, has improved. We’ve really taken the extra steps to work hard, to prove that we can hang. We can play football and win some football games,” he said. “We really want to make the playoffs. We want to prove that we can be a real challenge for a lot of teams.”

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