The Athens Hornets look to continue their perfect season Friday as they cap off a two-game road trip at Fairfield.
The Hornets (2-0) look to keep their offense rolling against the Eagles after averaging 45 points in the first two games. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium.
Last year, the Hornets lost to Fairfield, 45-25, in non-district play at Fairfield.
Eagles’head coach John Bachtel’s squad did not play last week due to a COVID-19 scare, which has had them away from game competition since Week 1. The Eagles lost to Rusk, 42-14 to open the season.
“We have two films on them due to having their scrimmage film also,” Athens coach Zac Harrell said. “Fairfield is a young team and graduated a lot of key players off of last year’s roster. They are similar to us and trying to get better each week. They are trying to find an identity, and one thing about them is coach Bachtel gets them to play hard. They have beaten Athens the last four times that they have played, so it is a great challenge for us to get over that hump.”
The Eagles (0-1) return only six players on offense and defense from last year’s area finalist team. Running back Tyler Smith returns after an injury forced him to miss the 2019 season.
“He is one of their best players and is really fast,” Harrell said. “He plays corner and running back and they play a lot of guys at running back. We will need to do a good job containing him and Eli Martin, who is a sophomore and plays linebacker, safety and running back.”
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine highlights Dylon Rushin, Dane Allman, Max McBean, Hayden Hale, Avery Paterson, Daytan Harris, Martin, Logan Walker, Bosque Monico, Luke Latham, Braiden Barrett and Jonathan Garcia as players to watch.
Offensively, the Eagles base out of a different philosophy than they did last year.
“They are still a spread scheme but last year, they were fast tempo with wide receiver splits,” Harrell said. “This year, they are a little bit slower with a new quarterback and their philosophy is a little bit different.”
In his keys to victory this week, Harrell said the coaching staff is making sure they improve in their key areas of the football game.
“Defensively, they have shown to play press-man every snap, so we have to beat that coverage,” Harrell said. “We need to eliminate our self-inflicted wounds, we need to swarm the football, we challenged special teams to make a game changing play and we want to continue to put the we ahead of the me.”
In last week’s 48-20 victory over the Waxahachie Life Mustangs, the Hornets had 514 yards of total offense with 366 rushing and 148 passing. The Hornets scored five straight touchdowns following an interception by sophomore quarterback Ty Arroyo.
Senior running back Nathan Sims had 163 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Mustangs.
“I thought we played well,” Harrell said. “I thought we played better than we did the week before. I thought we had a complete game, and Ty threw the ball well. The receivers made some plays, and then in the second half we were able to get our run game going. We have to give credit to offensive coordinator Dale Walker who found some formations to take advantage of what they were giving us in the first half.”
The defense has found it’s rhythm in the first two games allowing 24 points per game led by linebackers Connor Clay with 29 tackles and two fumble recoveries and Andrew Horn with 20 tackles and two caused fumbles.
He was pleased with his defensive unit against Life.
“I thought the defense played really well,” Harrell said. “Those numbers against Life were skewed because of those 359 yards, I think 180 of them were in the last five minutes of the game. Really, we had some of the backups in at that point. Our first unit gave up seven points and about 200 of those yards.”
He said he is proud of the special teams unit as well under coach Chayse Rives.
“The special teams is playing really well,” Harrell said. “Coach (Chayse) Rives has taken over that unit and done a tremendous job. Quentin (Hensley), Timber (Crouch) and Cesar (Martinez) have done a great job at executing that part of the game, and it gets overlooked. It is a very important part of winning and losing close game. Those units are doing a great job and continue to get better.”
Note: They have 500 tickets on sale, and those will only be sold as pre-sale at the AHS field house office. Tickets are $5 and everyone must have a ticket to enter. No passes will be accepted. No tickets will be sold at the gate in Fairfield. Tickets will be sold Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.