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 Troy Athens’ Trey Vincent runs with the ball at a recent scrimmage. Coach Billy Keenist Jr. said he thinks Athens is going to have a good year.

Troy Athens’ Trey Vincent runs with the ball at a recent scrimmage. Coach Billy Keenist Jr. said he thinks Athens is going to have a good year.

Photo by Sean Work

2019 Football Preview: Troy Athens

2018 Record: 1-8

By: C & G Sports Staff | Troy Times | Published July 23, 2019

Helmet provided by

Last season’s record: 1-8

League: Oakland Activities Association White Division

Returning starters: 10

First game: 7 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Detroit Old Redford

Offensive keys:
Although coach Billy Keenist Jr. said Athens has some nice skill players, that’s not the primary way he expects to have offensive success.

“It starts with our offensive line,” Keenist said. “That’s the biggest thing. … I think anytime you have a good football team, you look to the offensive line and that’s the key.”

A few of the players the line can help provide protection for are quarterback Mason Teeter and tailbacks Waides Ashmon III and Carson Eads.

Defensive keys:
After giving up more than 30 points in all but one game last season, Athens supporters can expect to see a different-looking defense this season.

“We’re doing a little bit of a different scheme this year, and the kids have done really well with it,” Keenist said. “We’re simplifying things — more aggressive on the defense, but it’s simpler, and they’ve done a great job. So I think just understanding what’s expected on the defensive side, and we got (to) attack more. We were too passive last year.”

AJ Rasa and Ashmon at linebacker, Nate Hazen at safety, Trey Vincent at cornerback and Kyle Spence on the defensive line could all help Athens see defensive improvement this year.

Coach’s outlook:
Last season was Keenist’s first leading Athens. Although it may have been a “culture shock” for the players, now that there is more familiarity with him and what he is about, things could take a turn for the better this year.

“I think going into your second year, you look for improvement,” Keenist said. “I’m just looking for improvement every week; just improve every week, and I feel good about it. I think we’re (going to) have a good year.”

vs. Detroit Old Redford (1-8) — 7 p.m. Aug. 29
The two programs have not previously played against each other. Old Redford’s inaugural season was 2004.

vs. Troy High (2-7) — 7 p.m. Sept. 6
Athens won last season’s game against the Colts 31-0. Troy has won 28 of the 46 games played between the programs.

at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (3-6) — 7 p.m. Sept. 13
Last year, Stoney Creek won 34-14 to improve to 6-2 all-time against Athens. Stoney Creek scored less than 10 points four times last season.

vs. Southfield A&T (3-6) — 7 p.m. Sept. 20
The Warriors won last season 50-20 to improve to 2-0 all-time against Athens. Southfield last qualified for the playoffs in 2016, which was its inaugural season.

at Birmingham Groves (10-3) — 7 p.m. Sept. 27
Of the 25 games played between the programs, Groves won just its seventh against Athens with a 42-6 victory last year. Last season, the Falcons scored 35 or more points seven times and qualified for the playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight years.

at Rochester High (2-7) — 7 p.m. Oct. 4
The Falcons won their third consecutive game against Athens with a 23-20 victory last year. Rochester has qualified for the playoffs just three times since 1990.

vs. Birmingham Seaholm (7-3) — 7 p.m. Oct. 11
In the three games played between the programs, Seaholm won its first against Athens with a 41-7 victory last season. After having previously gone four seasons without making the playoffs, the Maples qualified last year.

at Oak Park High (9-2) — 7 p.m. Oct. 18
Oak Park is now 3-4 all-time against Athens after coming away with a 33-14 win last season. In each of the last two years, Oak Park’s season has ended with a playoff loss to Warren De La Salle.

vs. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (4-5) — 7 p.m. Oct. 25
After having previously qualified for the postseason in five of seven years, Prep did not make the playoffs last year. This is the first meeting between the programs.