Troy Athens goalie Jason Kemp makes a stop during a recent practice. At press time, Athens was 5-0-1 on the season.

Troy Athens goalie Jason Kemp makes a stop during a recent practice. At press time, Athens was 5-0-1 on the season.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Athens boys soccer off to a strong start

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published September 3, 2019


TROY — Last year, Troy Athens’ boys soccer team was enjoying a perfect season for the majority of its campaign.

The Red Hawks went undefeated during the regular season and were 21-0 heading into a Division 1 district final against Utica Ford II.

The Falcons spoiled Athens’ perfect run with a 1-0 victory last October.

“The state tournament is a cruel thing and a fun thing,” said Athens coach Todd Heugh. “It’s not necessarily always about being good. … The last handful of years, we’ve had the opportunity to go far, go all the way to the state championship game, and we’ve also been knocked out in the first round.”

The Red Hawks are off to another strong start this year. At press time, they were 5-0-1 overall and 1-0 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Heugh’s expectations for this current squad are the same as always.

“They don’t really waiver. We’re (going to) try to win our conference, try to win our district, and try to go as deep in the state tournament as we can,” he said. “Everybody’s goal is state championship or bust.”

Athens has ample reason to have such high expectations. The program has made multiple deep runs in the playoffs over the years and has won four state championships.

That kind of success can also garner attention from opponents.

“I guess it’s nice to be known as a program that has been producing good teams for a really long time, long before I got here nine years ago,” Heugh said. “We are going to have to understand that we’re (going to) get lots of people’s best shot.”

Heugh said Athens has “about exactly half of our roster back” from last season, including senior captains Jason Kemp, Andri Myftari, Donovan Sharp and Davis DiGiovanni.

Heugh said they have been great leaders.

DiGiovanni has enjoyed being part of a program that has the kind of tradition Athens has.

“It’s really fun to be a part of, because we go in each and every year expecting great things and never settling for anything less than that,” DiGiovanni said.

With a team that is “as good as anybody on our schedule,” Heugh is enjoying being in the midst of another soccer season with Athens.

“Every year’s a new team, a new challenge, new ride, a new journey,” he said. “That’s what I tell the guys — enjoy it. … It’s your journey, and so far this one’s off to a fun start. I like the mix of the kids, and I like our competitive rate right now.”