This great photo of the Hornet’s interception in the end zone was taken by Carrie Bennett.

By Michael V. Hannigan

PALESTINE — The Athens Hornets went on the road to Palestine Thursday night for their second — and final — scrimmage of the year. Next week, the games start to count.

Thursday, the freshman, JV and varsity teams all got a chance to get some valuable experience.

Here are my observations from the stands from the final scrimmage.

— Some good, some bad: The Hornets had an up and down performance. The defense struggled giving up big plays and the offense looked out of sync at times. But the Hornets also came up with a big interception in the end zone to stop a Palestine drive and the Athens running game was there to lean on if it had been a real game. I also noted that Athens did not turn the ball over on the night, which is no small thing.

— It is all new: I am sure it has happened before, but I personally don’t ever remember seeing a team change its scheme this drastically from one season to the next. Everything the Hornets do is different on both sides of the ball from signaling in plays to lining up. They even punt differently than they did last year.

— Still thinking: With all those changes for the players to process it isn’t a surprise that they are sometimes struggling with execution. You can see that they are having to think through what they are supposed to be doing at times. That will only improve with more reps. I expect this to be a much different team by the time district play starts in October.

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— Love the attitude: The Athens sideline caught fire near the end of the controlled portion of the scrimmage with the second team defense on the field. The guys on the sideline started cheering loudly for their teammates and that continued into the simulated game portion of the scrimmage. But someone needs to tell me what they were chanting.

— The young guys: I mentioned this last week but it really is encouraging to see so many players out for the team. The freshman and JV played at the same time on opposite ends of the field. It was hard to watch everything but I did see two really pretty touchdown pass plays on the JV side and a fumble recovery by the freshmen.

— Last week of preseason: The season begins in earnest next week as the Hornets open on the road at Brownsboro.

— Agate: Did you see the JV team celebrating in the end zone after the second big touchdown pass? Gotta love that energy. … DJ Throwback: The first song played at the stadium as the two varsity teams warmed up was Rose Royse’s “Car Wash” from 1976. … There were 12 receivers catching passes as the varsity quarterbacks warmed up. That’s a lot of receivers.

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