HILLMAN-A tumultuous week ended on a good note for the Atlanta football team.
A few days after the Huskies had to forfeit all three of their wins from this season for using an ineligible player, Atlanta showed it's still a force to be reckoned with, topping Hillman 34-14 on Friday at Hillman High School.
Garrett Badgero threw four touchdown passes, three of which went to Josh Barrett and also ran for a touchdown as the Huskies (1-5) snapped a six-game losing streak over their county rivals.
News Photo by James Andersen
Atlanta quarterback Garrett Badgero, left, runs toward the end zone during the first quarter of a football game Friday at Hillman High School. Badgero scored on the play and threw for four touchdowns as the Huskies won 34-14.
It feels great. It shows that even with all the stuff going on, we can still get a win," Badgero said. "I haven't beaten (Hillman) in high school, so it feels great."
Though the postseason is out of reach, Atlanta still showed why it's been a force in the North Star League this season, scoring on three of its four drives in the first half to lead 26-8 at intermission.
Hillman (3-4) which is still fighting for a playoff berth, had trouble keeping the ball and committed four turnovers compared to one for the Huskies. Hillman coach Bill Koenig gave credit to Atlanta, which was pitted against a young Hillman squad already missing several starters.
"We were just outmanned tonight. They've got 10 seniors, we had two. I'm proud of my guys for stepping in and doing what we did against them," Koenig said. "Atlanta has a good football team, we knew that going in to the game and we knew that going into the year."
Atlanta kick started things on the first drive of the game when Badgero intercepted Ty Jones and punched it into the end zone three plays later on an eight-yard run to put Atlanta ahead 6-0 with 9:08 left in the first quarter.
Though Hillman's offense picked up a little in the second half, the first half was one of short drives for the Tigers and they found themselves down 14-0 early in the second quarter when Badgero found Barrett for a seven-yard touchdown pass.
Badgero was 14-of-27 for 193 yards and did a good job spreading the ball around to his receivers. Barrett had three catches for 50 yards, Jake Chambers had four grabs for 81 yards and Jered Teets had four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Badgero intercepted Jones again with less than 10 minutes left in the first half and marched the Huskies from around midfield in eight plays, ultimately throwing a 21-yard score to Teets.
Michael Klein, who led Hillman on the ground with 141 yards on 22 carries, put Hillman on the board with a little over five minutes left in the half, breaking a few tackles and scampering 43 yards to paydirt to cut into Atlanta's lead 18-6.
The Huskies answered back on the next drive, converting a huge fourth down play in which Badgero hooked up with Chambers on a 35-yard pass. Four plays later, Barrett found the end zone again, this time catching a 15-yard pass from Badgero.
After the game, the Huskies were presented with a trophy from Hillman that commemorates the rivalry between the two Montmorency County schools. The Huskies left their post-game huddle fired up and focused on the season's final two games.
"This is huge for us, to make a comeback after having to forfeit three of our wins; just the county rivalry and everything and it's been a few years since Atlanta's beat Hillman and this is great for the guys," Atlanta coach Troy Cheedie said.
The third quarter featured no scoring, but Atlanta made a strong goal line stand late in the third quarter stopping Hillman on the three-yard line.
Atlanta recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter, but fumbled the ball after just one play and Hillman recovered and scored two plays later on a two-yard run by Jones to make the score 26-14 with 5:13 left in the game.
Atlanta put the nail in the coffin on its next drive as Barrett caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Badgero to put the Huskies ahead 34-14 after a two-point conversion.
Cheedie was pleased to see Badgero spreading the ball around and was also happy to see such a solid effort from his team after such a tough week off the field.
"They're fired up, ready to finish out the season on a strong note. We ask guys to step up sometimes and it was Barrett's night. He was open and (Badgero) found him, so it worked out for us," Cheedie said.