Athens Academy football took a tough loss last Friday night, falling 23-2 to Wesleyan.
This marked the Spartans’ second loss of the season and first region loss of the year.
Athens Academy’s only score of the night came with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. Wesleyan was set to punt but the snap went over the punter’s head and into the Wolves’ end zone. While the punter tried to recover the ball, Tristan Puckett tackled the player in the end zone for a safety.
By the time the Spartans scored, the game was out of reach and the Wolves had already scored 23 points.
Multiple mistakes by the Athens Academy quarterbacks and offensive line contributed to the low scoring. The quarterbacks threw two interceptions and were sacked a total of three times. While the Spartan defense had multiple sacks of their own, it was not enough to combat the Wolves.
Johnerio Holt pointed out that missed assignments led to holes in the Athens Academy defense, but they need to accept it and move onto this week’s game.
Holt and his fellow senior leaders have a goal to get the team back on track as they prepare to face rival Prince Avenue on Friday.
“That's one thing about this school, no matter win or loss, we’re always going to be tight,” Holt said. “And looking at our senior class, we’ve just got to take the extra steps to become leaders, and we've been taking those steps and we fell off [last week]. But we do this often: We like to meet with each other and talk about what's going on not only with ourselves, but with the team.”
While splitting playing time, quarterbacks Sam Bush and Whit Muschamp understand their responsibilities and remain confident in their abilities while taking turns on the field.
“It doesn’t really affect anything,” Bush said. “When [Whit] goes out there, our team knows he’s a leader, knows he’s gonna go out there and play hard and when I go out there, they know I’m gonna play hard.”
Friday’s game was only Muschamp’s second game for Athens Academy. He sat out the first four games due to a broken collarbone.
Even so, Muschamp takes leadership in his team’s results.
“We’re a good team, but we’re beatable just like any other team,” Muschamp said. “We just gotta come out playing faster and with more enthusiasm.”
Holt acknowledged the team’s first loss while reflecting on the recent one.
“My biggest takeaway is that after that first loss of the season, our team showed consistency, they showed want, they showed drive. And that's what excites me the most,” Holt said. “So no matter, win or lose, they’re always gonna keep moving forward, they're always going to keep pushing, they're always going to keep doing the right things, making the right decision.”
Athens Academy faced a difficult week when preparing for its game against Prince Avenue. The Wolverines beat Wesleyan just a few weeks ago by 25 points.
Bush knows the Spartans need to eliminate penalties if they want to perform well. He said the quarterbacks need to spread the ball better than they did against the Wolves. He will take head coach Josh Alexander’s halftime advice into practice and the game.
“Just keep fighting, keep your head up, lead and get the win,” Bush said. “Come out [this] week. We’ve got a big game, one of the best teams we’ll play all year. We gotta start new right there.”
As one of the team’s most influential senior leaders, Holt considers the team’s mental recovery for the final four regular season games – which will all be region contests – part of his responsibility.
“I just want to encourage all the guys to keep their heads up,” Holt said. “It was a tough loss first game of the season. We took a tough loss [last week] and I just can't allow my guys to let their heads drop. Like Coach A always says, a man starts where he stands.”