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Athens Academy’s football team fell to Trinity Christian School in its season opener at Slaughter Field. The Lions, who finished second in the 2020 state playoffs behind Prince Avenue Christian, defeated the Spartans 59-7.

The Spartans were plagued by errors throughout much of the game. An interception within the first few minutes of the game allowed Trinity to capitalize and score the first touchdown of the game.

Only a few possessions later, a fumble by Athens Academy on the 16-yard line turned the ball over for a second time. Despite two false starts, Trinity was able to drive in a second touchdown before the start of the second quarter.

The Spartans did not find much luck again during the second quarter. Trinity returned without hesitation.

In his first possession, quarterback David Dallas threw for a 54-yard touchdown, his team’s third of the night.

Athens Academy defense responded in the Lions’ next possession with two consecutive sacks, resulting in a loss of 2 yards total that forced a turnover of the ball.

While quarterback Sam Bush and the Spartans tried to garner some offensive momentum before halftime, they were unable to do so.

Trinity managed to pull out another touchdown before halftime. Dallas avoided a sack to complete another pass, leading to another touchdown.

Thanks to a combination of skillful precision for the Lions and bad luck for the Spartans, Trinity led by 28-0 at the half.

“We had a lot of penalties which hurt us in the long run but we’ll learn from it and we’ll do better next time,” Bush said after the game. “They were just big and fast and strong. Hopefully, we get to see them later in the playoffs. We’ll get them round two.”

When the teams returned from the locker rooms, they were joined by rain. This did not halt any of Trinity’s momentum.

Just 55 seconds into the quarter, a 45-yard rushing touchdown scored Trinity its fifth touchdown of the night. The Lions scored two more touchdowns in the third, as well as a field goal, to further their lead to 52-0 before the final quarter.

The Spartans did not let the game end without a fight. During the final quarter of the night, they were able to find a touchdown of their own from Austin McGee, who rushed 72 yards to put the Spartans on the scoreboard for the first time in the game.

Unfortunately for Athens Academy, a costly fumble at the goal line turned the ball over to Trinity once again. Dallas and the Lions took advantage and were able to score a final touchdown to close the game 59-7.

In the end, the Trinity Lions forced penalties and untimely errors by the Spartans.

Bush, brother of former Spartan quarterback Palmer Bush, fought his way to the starting quarterback spot over the summer.

As other contenders fell from this position due to injury, Bush learned from his brother and stepped into the role, ready to lead his team. Despite a first-game loss, head coach Josh Alexander remains confident in his pick.

“We’re proud of him,” Alexander said. “He played hard and he kept leading and never got down on the team. He just does everything we ask him to do. He's a class act individual and he’s exactly what we look for in a Spartan.”

McGee, the only Spartan to score on Friday, stepped up as a sophomore to replace injured Tre Hawkins after it was announced the running back would not be playing due to nagging injury.

“I just saw the hole, and my line did a good job of blocking,” McGee said about the scoring play. “I just took off.”

The Trinity game was a rematch of last season’s opener. In 2020, the Spartans pulled out a 17-10 victory in Sharpsburg.

Both teams later continued to the playoffs. Athens Academy fell to Fellowship Christian in the second round, while Trinity went to play in the championship game against Prince Avenue, finishing runner-up.

“They’re just a well-coached team all around,” Alexander said. “Great players and our kids fought hard, we just need to get better. We have a lot of areas we need to improve on and that’s what we’ll do.”

Athens Academy travels to Charlotte, North Carolina, to face Charlotte Country Day School this Friday, Aug. 27.

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