ATHENS — The Athens Hornets will have plenty to work on following Friday night's scrimmage against the Chapel Hill Bulldogs at Bruce Field.
A week after putting together a solid practice against Wills Point, the Hornets got outscored by the Bulldogs, 3-1, during the controlled portion of the scrimmage and 34-0 during a timed half. Athens' lone score came on its first offensive series, when the Hornet first-teamers drove 70 yards in nine plays. Senior fullback Adam Stallings capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run.
But after that, the Hornets were plagued by mistakes that they'll work to iron out over the next week as they prepare for their Aug. 30 season opener against Kaufman. Athens receivers dropped nine passes and the Hornets lost five fumbles. The Bulldogs scored 13 points off those fumbles during the timed portion of the scrimmage and tacked on a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"We showed we can go jaw-to-jaw with them," Athens head coach Paul Essary said. "We just need more mental focus. We're going to be OK. We'll be a better football team next week."
Essary said he was once again pleased with the level of physicality and intensity he saw from his senior-heavy football team. He also noted the scrimmage — which he said was the longest of his five-year tenure at Athens — gave his coaching staff a chance to see how mentally strong the team will be when it gets tired.
"One of the main things I wanted to get out of this — and don't get me wrong, I want to win whether we're playing dominoes or hop-scotch — was I wanted our kids to feel themselves hit the wall," he said. "We have to learn how to keep fighting when we hit that wall in the second half of games."