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Atlanta football team made the most of season with limited roster

Courtesy Photo/Ben Murphy Atlanta senior Trace Juergens, seen here in a home game against Pellston earlier this season, has helped the undermanned Huskies remain competitive this fall, despite the team typically suiting up just 10 players in most contests.

ATLANTA — Regardless of tonight’s outcome at Whittemore-Prescott, the Atlanta football team isn’t going to have a winning record this season, and it isn’t going to be headed for the playoffs.

That is about where the negatives come to an end for the Huskies this fall however, as they’ve been quite competitive on the field while navigating a rugged 8-man football schedule with as little as two players on the bench most nights.

“I am definitely happy,” Atlanta coach Troy Cheedie, who is in his 11th year with the team, said. “We have improved throughout the whole season, especially for such a young team. I have one senior and basically three juniors, so it has been tough, but I was happy with how they battled.”

The season didn’t exactly start off on a positive note. Atlanta opened at AuGres and lost 50-8, on a night that they were unable to finish the second half due to injuries.

“That was not a good showing at all,” Cheedie said.

The Huskies bounced back in week two with an 8-6 win over Posen, and in week five they were in a tie game with a one-loss Pellston team in the second half before that slipped away and led another playoff-bound team Mio, at the half in week six. Week seven was the breakthrough the Huskies were looking for, as they throttled host Forest Area 54-0; their first shutout win since 2014.

“Everything was clicking that night,” Cheedie said. “Everyone was doing a good job, from the offensive line, our defensive line, our quarterback TJ Currie was throwing the ball good, Trace Juergens and Gage Cheedie were running good, our receivers had some good catches for long yardage. It all came together and they played the game that I know they can play and I was just very happy to see that all the work paid off for them.”

Atlanta was also awarded a forfeit victory over the Charlton Heston Academy last week, putting its record to 3-5 this season. What perhaps makes their on the field accomplishments all the more amazing is the fact the Huskies have done this with just 10 players suited up most weeks.

“We have pretty much gone with 10 or 11 guys each week, but everyone has gotten a lot of reps,” Cheedie, who said he expects at least 15 members on the team next fall, said. “To ask the 10 guys to go pretty much both ways the whole game without a break, they’ve done an excellent job doing that.”

While Juergens is the squad’s lone senior, he has certainly made an impact.

“You couldn’t ask for a better kid to coach,” Cheedie said.

After earning all-state honors as a junior, Juergens has followed that up with a stellar senior season as well, as he’s averaged more than 100-yards rushing a game; highlighted by his night at Forest Area where he had six total touchdowns; two rushing, two receiving, one on a pass, and one on a defensive fumble return.

“It was a rough year because we only had 13 kids to start out and we kept losing kids to eligibility and injuries, so we had to play both sides of the ball, even with four freshmen, it was just tiring,” Juergens said. “I had fun though, even though we didn’t win as many as we wanted to, it was a good time.”

A win tonight at North Star League foe Whittemore-Prescott (2-6 overall) would be quite the feather in the cap for the Huskies. After all, the Cardinals, who boast 230 students in their high school, have enough depth in their program to field a junior varsity team, while Atlanta and its enrollment of 78 has ran with around 10 in its entire program most the year.

“That’s what (we) are hoping for, one of them would be a forfeit but we could end the season with three straight wins and a 4-5 record,” Cheedie said. “Not having a game last week, we have been focused on Whittemore, watching a lot of film and getting ready for them. I think it should be a good game and a pretty even match-up. They have us outsized up front, but I think if we can create an edge and get outside we can run the ball on them. Currie has really come along passing the ball the last few games too, so maybe that will be there for us. We have to be able to hold our own in the trenches, but I think we’re ready.”

For Juergens, he’s just planning on enjoying playing high school football one final time; although a victory would be a pretty sweet ending.

“A win would be really, really special for me since it is my last game ever,” he said. “I would really love to get that win. It should be a really good game.

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