Daniel Stanley

Athens quarterback Daniel Stanley barrels over a Canton Eagles defender in their only scrimmage Thursday at Norris Birdwell Stadium. The Hornets prepare for Brownsboro Friday in the Highway 31 Championship.

CANTON – Athens head coach Zac Harrell doesn’t view a scrimmage as a win-loss scenario. He wants to see hard work and effort on every play.

Even with a 3-0 loss in the 66-play portion against the Canton Eagles Thursday night in Canton, and a 7-0 win in the live quarter, Harrell knows they have work to do.

In the live quarter, Athens scored on a 13-yard run for the only score of the quarter.

I thought it was a good night. We have the best staff in the state of Texas and I truly believe that. I thought it was a great defensive effort and it was a great night.

We have to clean up the penalties and be smarter at times,” Harrell said. “We can’t get caught up when we feel like somebody pushes us and not retaliating. We have to be smart and we have a lot of stuff to clean up.”

This was the only scrimmage for both teams, as the regular season begins Friday.

I thought it was a great look for us and those guys played hard,” Harrell said. “Coach (Casey) Hubble is an excellent coach, and I have coached against him for three times in my career. He is an awesome coach and gets his guys to play really hard. I thought it was a great look for us to play a quality opponent like those guys.”

The Hornets host the Brownsboro Bears, while Canton travels to Mineola. The Athens and Brownsboro opener at Bruce Field is the third Highway 31 championship with a trophy, sponsored by Hayden Elder.

The series is currently tied 1-1 following the Hornets 33-14 victory last year. It was Harrell’s first victory with the Hornets.

We are looking for our guys to get out there and play with great effort,” Harrell said. “We want them to love each other and buy into our core values. We think if they do that, we will let the scoreboard take care of itself. We have had the sign ‘Beat Brownsboro’ in our locker room up until when we came back from Christmas. We have been preparing to play Brownsboro for a long time and we are excited for that matchup.”

In the original 88-play portion of the scrimmage, the two teams decided to cut out the last two series of plays making it a 66-play portion.

During the play portion, Canton scored on a 70-yard touchdown run, a two-yard touchdown pass and another pass play.

I thought our kids played really hard. I thought we started out great defensively with our first group,” Harrell said. “Really, I don’t even know how many they scored because we don’t keep track of a scrimmage. I know they hit two scores with the second group out and we weren’t playing assignment football.”

The Athens defense had a strong night with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries against Canton.

Harrell said they will play a key role in the success of the team this year.

Our defense played lights out and ran to the football,” Harrell said. “We created a ton of turnovers and had three interceptions. I think two fumble recoveries also, and we stressed to these guys that we have to be great on the defensive side of the football. I could not be more pleased and excited for what possibilities are there.”

Harrell said quarterbacks Daniel Stanley and Ty Arroyo made the decision at quarterback tougher heading into the season opener against Brownsboro.

I was really proud of our quarterbacks,” Harrell said. “Those quarterbacks was the first time they have played in a live varsity game. I thought they handled it really well and we handcuffed them tonight. Those guys are both great runners, and didn’t call any quarterback run game. I was extremely proud of both guys.”

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