The Spartans are once again tops in their region.
Athens Academy’s boys soccer team clinched its sixth-straight region title Monday night. The Spartans beat Prince Avenue Christian School to secure the championship in a 10-0 win Monday at Slaughter Field.
Afterward, the Spartans were excited as they celebrated the accomplishment.
But head coach Stefan Billmayer said his team got to that point by being serious about its work.
“The mantra is one game at a time, one week at a time,” Billmayer said. “We try not to make bad habits while we're playing. We've kind of had our heads down a little bit, in a focus sense.”
Once the game went final Monday, that focused work had paid off with yet another region championship.
“It's awesome,” Miles Pringle said about winning the region. “It's great to be on the team. It's fun to play with all of them.”
Other Region 8-A-Private teams include Tallulah Falls, Athens Christian School, George Walton Academy, Loganville Christian School and Prince Avenue Christian.
The Spartans beat all those teams twice, with the exception of Loganville Christian, which will play Athens Academy a second time on April 13.
On Monday, the Spartans completed the season sweep over the Wolverines, their archrivals.
Athens Academy led 2-0 within the first nine minutes. They did not slow down much after that point.
Oliver Yates scored at the 15:29 mark of the first half, increasing the lead to 3-0. That goal seemed to force open the floodgates.
Wally Terrell scored after a corner kick to make it a 4-0 game with 13:19 left in the first half.
Lewis Scruggs score at the 12:37 mark. With 44.7 seconds left before halftime, Pringle scored his second goal of the night to give Athens Academy a 6-0 halftime lead.
That first-half performance alone produced a better result than the Spartans’ first game against Prince Avenue. Their first match, held March 19, ended 4-0.
“The first game was after spring break,” Pringle said. “We all were rusty. We were struggling to finish. Since then, we've been practicing a lot and working on our finishing. We came out strong [Monday] and it showed.”
Scruggs scored again less than a minute into the second half. He notched his fifth goal at the 29:14 mark.
The Spartans made it a 9-0 game before Dru Hunt kicked in the 10th goal at 10:40, invoking the mercy rule and ending the match early.
Scruggs finished with five goals, Pringle had two and Yates, Hunt and Terrell all had one apiece.
The win gave Athens Academy three-straight victories by a score of 10-0. The Spartans have six 10-0 wins to their credit this year as well as a 10-1 victory over Cedar Shoals.
Freshman Kingsley Lavender said the Spartans’ offense works well together, thus allowing for the high number of goals.
“It's just our combination play and being able to go up and down their lines pretty easily and going through the middle, too,” Lavender said.
Athens Academy has not lost since dropping a 6-3 decision to Morgan County High School on March 2. Since then, the Spartans have won six matches in a row.
Billmayer said that his team has been so successful because of its memory of how COVID-19 ruined its 2020 season.
“Coming back from spring break, we had a little bit of rust,” Billmayer said. “It happens every year. Spring season is really challenging for all spring sports because weather has always been an issue with rainouts and reschedules but, on top of that, with COVID last year we played three games. I know how special it is specifically for seniors this year but, really, for all of them that had to watch seniors last year have a disappointing end. ... That's something we keep in our heads.”
The Spartans will return to action April 6 with a home game against Mount de Sales. Their regular season slate will conclude with road games against Clarke Central, Loganville Christian and North Oconee.
Billmayer said he is confident his team is good enough to finish strong and be ready for a playoff run.
“This is my 19th or 20th year at Athens Academy. This squad might be one of the most special teams that's come through,” Billmayer said. “You don't always get a group that seems to come on at the right time. You've got to have talent, the planets need to align a little bit and the third element that makes this team really special is the camaraderie that they have and the chemistry they have.”