Troy High and Troy Athens football set to battle it out

By: Christian Davis | Troy Times | Published October 20, 2011

 Troy High running back Matt Oppenlander tries to get away from a Rochester High defender in a game earlier this season.

Troy High running back Matt Oppenlander tries to get away from a Rochester High defender in a game earlier this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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TROY — Their destinations are all ready set for following the game, which means when Troy High and Troy Athens meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Athens, the contest is purely for bragging rights.

“The only thing at stake right now is pride,” Troy coach Gary Griffith said. “They’re already in the playoffs, and we’re already out. It’s our last opportunity to rally the troops and try to play a good football game.”

Troy comes in at 3-5 overall, and Athens is 6-2 after clinching a playoff spot with last week’s 13-12 win against Southfield High.

“This week is going to be nuts, but we have to treat this … it’s like all season, we’d say, ‘guys, it’s just another game,’” Athens coach Josh Heppner said. “It’s our game to lose. It’s just another game to us. Maybe take it up a notch in terms of intensity and things like that, but we have to play with cool heads and talk with our pads.”

Troy hasn’t lost to Athens since 2006, which was the last time the teams met that Troy didn’t have a better record coming in. That season, they were both 4-4.

Griffith said beating Athens wouldn’t erase the sting of the season, because no matter what the Colts have done prior this game, it’s important.

“It’s our rivalry game. Our kids are excited to play regardless,” Griffith said. “Things haven’t gone as we would have liked the last couple weeks, so this is our last chance to play against our city rival. It’s for bragging rights for a year, and we’re trying to go out on a good note.”

Heppner added that nothing changes in terms of their approach in the rivalry game, despite coming in with more success this season.

“If we changed our scheme or we’re getting a little too big for our britches, that’s when you get to the top of the mountain and someone kicks your feet out from underneath you, and you go tumbling down to the bottom. For us, we’re going into the game like we’re facing the returning state champions.”

Both coaches said ball control and keeping the opposing offenses off the field would be key.

Griffith is hoping his squad can put together a complete game, which has been their issue.

Heppner is counting on more of the same from his Red Hawks.

“As long as we keep the ball out of their hands, chew up the clock and do what we have to do … we should be OK.”
 

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