Athens Hornets athletes

Athens Hornets Connor Clay, Derek Killingsworth, Nathan Sims, Caleb Bennett and Jecorey Roberts will play in their only scrimmage of the year Thursday night in Canton. Scrimmage time is set for 6:30 p.m.

The Athens Hornets get one chance to prepare for the upcoming season Thursday in Canton.

The lone scrimmage against the Canton Eagles is scheduled at Norris Birdwell Stadium with freshmen and junior varsity at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity around 6:30 p.m.

“We treat scrimmages as the last evaluation of our team,” Athens coach Zac Harrell said. “We still have a lot of guys that are battling for positions or a roster spot on varsity, JV and freshman team. This is the first time we will see when guys go against someone in live competition, how they respond when it is full go and who shines when the lights come on.”

At the scrimmage in Canton, the Athens occupancy is limited to 500 people. Masks must be worn in the stadium. Harrell is not sure how the capacity will be dealt with for entrance into Norris Birdwell Stadium.

The freshman and JV will be on opposite ends of the field with the teams getting 10 offensive plays before switching.

In the varsity portion of the scrimmage, the Hornets and Eagles will have around 88 plays and then play a live 10-minute quarter.

The first-team offenses will have 12 plays, followed by a 10-play set with the second teams. Once those are done, the two teams will repeat that setup before going to the live quarter.

“The live quarter will be ran just like a normal game,” Harrell said.

Harrell said during the live quarter, the special team units will be dead, so it will just be punt. They will have no rush so wherever they catch the ball, it will be set during the quarter.

Coach Casey Hubble’s Eagles are led by quarterback Jason Brisbois, who finished with 477 yards and three touchdown passing last year. Running back Chris Cade leads the way in receiving after having 449 yards and five touchdowns.

Offensive lineman Jake Brock is a player to watch along with Preston Yarber on the line. Teammate Ben Norman, Creede Herchman, Colt Sheppard, Gunnar Boswell and Jacob Elliott are other players to watch on the offensive line.

On defense, Canton is led by Cade who was the top player in interceptions. He will be joined by Braden Hawkins in the secondary, Kale Shaw at linebacker, JaBraylon Pickens in the secondary and Chanston Prox in the secondary.

“Canton is going to be very similar to us as far as their schemes,” Harrell said. “They run the same defense in a 4-3 defense and are spread on offense, but use a halfback or a sniffer back just like we are. It is good that we are playing a team similar to us and we don’t scheme a scrimmage.”

Harrell said his main focus for the only scrimmage of the year is the position battles and who separates themselves.

“The main thing we are looking at is who is going to separate themselves in position battles,” Harrell said. “We have very few positions that are settled right now. We want to have an idea of what that first week is going to look like. Other than that, as a team I am looking forward to seeing our offensive line. We have one of six returning that played last year.”

Harrell said Athens fans will not see much of Nathan Sims, Connor Clay and Derek Killingsworth in the scrimmage due to their experience on the varsity level.

He said fans can expect a good bit of Ty Arroyo and Daniel Stanley at quarterback and they are excited to see what the defense does against Canton.

“Defensively, we are really excited about our defense and we think our defense will be the strength of our team and carry us early,” Harrell said. “We have a lot more team speed on the defensive side of the ball compared to last year. We are excited to see what they do against Canton.”

For a full recap of the scrimmage, you can check out the Saturday edition of the Athens Daily Review.

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