Athens coach Zac Harrell knows heading into the open week that they have work to be done with all threee football programs.
Athens (4-2, 0-2 in District 9-4A, Division I) is open Friday. They return to action Oct. 16 as they host the Lindale Eagles. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Bruce Field.
“I am really pleased with where our program is at and where we are headed.,” Harrell said. “Overall, the last two weeks for the varsity hasn’t been what we have wanted. We have had some tough breaks but that part of football and part of life. We are looking forward to the upcoming weeks and how we respond under the adversity that we have faced. To control our own destiny, we have to win three out of the next four games to get in the playoffs. That is a tough task, but we think we have a great shot to do it.”
In the past two weeks, the Hornets have dealt with at least six major injuries to the varsity squad.
Harrell said it is tough to see those kids get those injuries.
“More than anything, I hate it for those kids and especially the seniors that it has happened to,” Harrell said. “They have worked extremely hard their entire high school career and to see them get an injury that puts them out for a long time or ends their senior season is tough. I feel for those kids and we try to make them know that they are still a part of this team and we love them. That is a tough thing to overcome your senior year, and it is hard to feel like you are a part of the team.”
He said with four games remaining in the season, the team is working on basics this week.
“The main focus for us is we don’t practice the same as we do during a normal game week schedule,” Harrell said. “We practice after school on Tuesday and Wednesday and everyday during the athletic period. We try to focus on the small things and fix our mistakes. We focus on basics and we have done a 10-minute ball security station every day this week to focus on small fundamentals of the positions and the game of football. I enjoy the open week and try to get the guys energized again and being together.”
On the subvarsity level, the Athens freshman team is currently undefeated at 6-0 and 2-0 in district play. The junior varsity is 4-2 overall and 1-1 in district play.
“Our JV and freshman are very important to us,” Harrell said. “We try to put as much effort into those programs as we do our other guys. We feel like that is the future and some programs push them to the side, but we try to coach them just like we do our varsity.”
He said to have a program where his three teams are 14-4 overall is special as they wrap up the open week.
“We are really looking forward to the next four games and competing for a district championship on freshman and JV levels,” Harrell said.
NOTE: For a preview of the Athens and Lindale Eagles contest at Bruce Field, check out the Thursday, Oct. 15 printed edition of the Athens Daily Review.