Athens Review, Athens, Texas

October 11, 2012

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Starting over again

Despite 1-4 record, arrival of district play means new life for Athens

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

ATHENS — So this is what it was:

1. a slow start that resulted in a 1-4 record;

2. an embarassing loss among those first five games; and

3. an offense trying to find a niche and a defense looking for playmakers.

Welcome back to 2009.

In Paul Essary’s first year as head coach of the Athens Hornets, all of the above was true.

Actually, the Hornets started 1-5 before putting the pieces together and making the playoffs (where they led 2008 state finalist Waco LaVega until the fourth quarter of their bi-district game).

In 2012, all of the above has been a reality for the Hornets. They’re 1-4 heading into Friday night’s District 15-3A opener against the Canton Eagles (4-1) and coming off the worst loss of the three-plus-year Essary era — a 49-0 defeat at the hands of the Palestine Wildcats before last week’s open date.

Friday night’s game, however, marks the beginning of contests that will separate the playoff teams from all others.

“I think the kids understand everybody’s 0-0 going into district right now,” Essary said. “And half the teams are going to be 1-0 and half the teams are going to be 0-1 after Friday night.”

Essary said coaches spent the open week breaking down schemes, teaching and reviewing while continuing to work toward getting healthy.

“There were some things I think that were maybe a little confusing,” he said. “So hopefully we’ll understand the scheme a little bit better now.”

The Eagles — coached by former AHS chief Robert Ivey — are a high-scoring outfit. Canton claimed a 62-38 win over Wills Point two weeks ago and, the week before that, beat Carrollton Ranchview, 45-24.

Ivey’s club hasn’t been involved in a game decided by less than 17 points — which was a 47-20 loss to Fairfield in Week 2.

The Eagles’ wins have been by 21, 21, 21 and 24 points.

“Canton’s got a balanced offense, and what makes them dangerous is they do a lot of different things,” Essary said. “And they do them well.”