For the Horizon Christian Academy, last year’s championship run may have just been a preview for this year.
The Warriors [9-1] recently won the second region championship in program history after defeating Victory Baptist 41-6 last week.
Next week, they’ll host their first game of the state playoffs, which will be against either David Emanuel, the team they defeated in the state championship last year, or they’ll have a rematch with Victory Baptist.
While the region championship itself was meaningful on its own, the victory also allows them to host their first game of the state playoffs.
For head coach Damon Taylor, that is something Horizon is looking forward to after playing on the road during last year’s playoffs.
“The biggest reason why [winning the region] is so big is last year we had to travel,” Taylor said. “We came in third and had to travel first round. We traveled to Vidalia for the first round, and we traveled to David Emanuel for the championship. This year, just being at home and having the home-field advantage, that’s a big deal. That’s one of the biggest deals for us.”
Senior quarterback Zane Lamonde will lead the offense into the playoffs. This season he has 919 passing yards, 430 rushing yards, and a total of 17 touchdowns.
Fellow senior Tanner Story has been one of Horizon’s top weapons with 412 receiving yards, 448 rushing yards, and 13 touchdowns.
Story is a threat to score every play. He’s the type of player that Taylor tries to get into space and just let him go to work.
Despite winning the GAPPS 8-man football Class 1A state championship last season, Taylor’s team isn’t getting ahead of themselves. They’re taking it one practice and one game at a time.
“We’re just trying to keep our head down and make sure that we do the right things to make sure we position ourselves to be there again,” Taylor said.
Through 10 games, they’ve outscored their opponents 407-102. Their defense is led by a pair of seniors in Aaron Monroe and Luke Radtke. Monroe leads the defense with 80 tackles and four interceptions, while Radtke has 44 tackles to go with two sacks and two interceptions.
The Warriors also have some younger players that have contributed in big ways.
Sophomore Isaac Bealer has 169 receiving yards and 413 rushing yards this season. He also stepped up at quarterback when Lamonde got injured during their loss to Johnson Ferry earlier this season and led them to victory over Lanier Christian with Lamonde still sidelined.
Sophomore Carson Chapman has made a big impact on the defensive side with 58 tackles this season.
With the way the GAPPS 1A state playoffs are set up, a victory on Nov. 19 would send Horizon to the semifinals and only one win away from being back in the championship.
Regardless of who they line up against next Friday, Horizon will be confident and prepared thanks to their plethora of playmakers.