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PREVIEW: Athens Academy at Hebron Christian

Hebron's Tyler Matthews

Hebron's Tyler Matthews

ATHENS ACADEMY SPARTANS (8-A)

Coach: Michael Gunn

Record: 8-0, 4-0 region

Last week: Beat George Walton Academy 21-20

HEBRON LIONS (8-A)

Coach: Sal Battaglia

Record: 1-7, 0-5 region

Last week: Lost to Commerce 42-11

Welcoming the unbeaten second-ranked team in the state from your classification to town is never easy, but the already short-handed Lions could be missing four or more players this week due to injury or illness.

Still, coach Sal Battaglia is trying to focus on the positives, such as the recent play of the likes of senior receiver Tyler Matthews (four catches, 162 yards, TD last week) and junior linebacker Jay Wallo (10 tackles).

“I’m hoping we’re getting more competitive with each week,” Battaglia said. “We’re trying to find some takeaways. We had a nine-minute drive (last week) against (Commerce’s) No. 1 defense coming out of the lockerroom (in the third quarter). We’re just trying to get better every week.”

This week’s opponent will pose a huge challenge, especially the Athens Academy passing game, led by quarterback Austin Schulte, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in last week’s win over George Walton Academy, as well as receivers Jordan Lawson and Eric Williams.

“We’ve seen some good football teams this season, but this one might be the cream of the crop,” Battaglia said of the Spartans. “They looked well coached and very disciplined. We’re just going go give it our best shot.”

Last meeting: First meeting between the two teams

Directions to Hebron Christian Academy: From Ga. Highway 316, go north on Ga. Highway 8 approximately one mile and turn left at the traffic light onto Dacula Road (after passing Dacula High School on the left). Stadium is about a mile ahead on the right.