Troy Athens junior Davis DiGiovanni attempts to control the ball during a game against Troy High Sept. 18. The Red Hawks won 4-0. At press time, Athens was ranked as the No. 1 Division 1 team in the state.

Troy Athens junior Davis DiGiovanni attempts to control the ball during a game against Troy High Sept. 18. The Red Hawks won 4-0. At press time, Athens was ranked as the No. 1 Division 1 team in the state.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Athens soccer is again one of the elite programs in the state

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published September 25, 2018

 Troy Athens’ Donovan Sharp looks to take possession in the game against Troy High. At press time, Athens had outscored its opponents 37-2 on the season.

Troy Athens’ Donovan Sharp looks to take possession in the game against Troy High. At press time, Athens had outscored its opponents 37-2 on the season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

TROY — Every now and then, Troy Athens boys soccer coach Todd Heugh will have his players take a walk through the school’s gymnasium.

A gaze at the banners will reveal what players were probably already aware of — Athens soccer has a lot of championships to its credit, including five state titles for the boys program and four for the girls.

By seeing tangible proof of the program’s history of success, players can visualize what it would be like to take their place among the greats of Athens’ past.

“I’m an alumni of the program myself,” Heugh said. “Coach (Tim) Storch, prior to me, was the only coach in Athens history. The history of our program and the tradition of our program is something that I kind (of) hold special.”

Although there’s no way to know how things will end up this season, what is clear is that the Red Hawks are good.

At press time, Athens was 12-0, ranked as the No. 1 Division 1 team in the state by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association, and had outscored its opponents 37-2 on the season.

Heugh likes the mix he has with this year’s squad.

“We have a nice balance of returning players from last year’s team, and even have a couple from the year before,” Heugh said. “And then all of our newcomers are coming from our JV team that’s been very good the last two years. There’s really been, quite frankly, no room on our varsity roster, so the newcomers are super hungry, and it’s made for a nice balance of experience and hunger.”

Last season, the Red Hawks were also considered one of the best teams in the state.

After losing in a state final in 2016, according to Heugh, Athens was ranked No. 3 going into the district playoffs last year.

However, a 2-1 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice in an opening-round district game ended a potentially promising season.

What hurt then could be used as a source of motivation when the playoffs begin.

“I think that is in the returning guys’ mind, that early exit last year,” Heugh said. “That stings a little bit. … I think there’s a hunger there.”

What helps make Athens’ program so strong is the interest that local youths have in being part of it.

Heugh said Athens is getting between 90 and 100 kids trying out for the program.

Those numbers correlate with soccer being a “big deal” in the city of Troy.

“There’s some high interest in the city,” Heugh said. “A lot (of) kids play, and it makes our job a lot easier to have access to so many kids. … Kids in the city are coming and watching our games Tuesday and Thursday nights and, I think, hoping that by the time they get to high school they get an opportunity to kind (of) play on that stage.”

That kind of interest can go a long way toward helping Athens sustain the success that has made the program among the best in the state.

“We continue to have very good players,” Heugh said. “Because we have so many players, we end up with really good players on all of our teams at all of our levels. … I feel good about where we’re at. I feel that we’ll probably have around 90 kids trying out for our soccer team next year as well.”

Up next, Athens is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at home against Royal Oak High.