The Horizon Christian Academy Warriors won the Georgia Private and Parochial Schools 8-man football Class 1A state championship Friday against David Emanuel Academy Eagles, 42-38, in Stillmore. The win marks Horizon's first-ever football state championship.
“ We played well Friday night,” HCA head coach Damon Taylor said after the game. “It was a big stage for our kids and they showed up.”
The Warriors fell to an early 14-0 deficit in the first half. The Eagles shot off fireworks after every touchdown and played fan interviews.
“Everyone remained calm and poised,” Taylor said. “We talked about distractions all year, and this game was the greatest test of that. We quickly had to refocus and remind our kids about distractions.”
After being named the new starting quarterback with only four games left in the season, Malachi Mathis led the Warriors all the way through the state tournament. The second half of the state championship was no different.
Mathis threw for four touchdowns and ran in two more. Mathis’ play helped bring the Warriors the 42-38 victory for the state championship. Tanner Story caught three of Mathis’ four touchdown passes. Camden Moore caught the other score.
“We knew our offense was capable of making explosive plays to get us back in it,” Taylor said. “We also knew our defense was a couple of adjustments away from getting the stops we needed. It was a great win, not only for the team, but for our school.”
The Warriors were the No. 3 seed out of Region 1 and traveled for all three of their state playoff games. In the first round, HCA traveled to Vidalia Heritage in Vidalia and won. The following week, HCA traveled to Douglasville to beat Region 1 champions Kingsway Academy.
The football season is not entirely over for all the Warriors.
Mathis and Moore were both invited to participate in the 8-man junior/senior bowl Saturday at Victory Baptist School in Loganville.