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Football: Horizon Christian set for title defense after historic season
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Horizon Christian will count on seniors Tanner Story, left, and Aaron Monroe to provide leadership on both sides of the football. - photo by Jacob Smith

2021 Football Schedule

Aug. 20 – Horizon Christian Academy at Holy Spirit Prep, 4:30 p.m.

Aug. 27 – Horizon Christian Academy at Fideles Christian

Sept. 3 – Unity Christian School at Horizon Christian Academy, 5 p.m.

Sept. 10 – Horizon Christian Academy at Holy Ground

Sept. 17 – BYE

Sept. 24 – Horizon Christian Academy at Johnson Ferry

Oct. 1 – Hearts Academy at Horizon Christian Academy, 5 p.m.

Oct. 8 – Horizon Christian Academy at Lanier Christian

Oct. 15 – BYE

Oct. 22 – Our Lady of Mercy at Horizon Christian Academy, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 29 – Kingsway Baptist at Horizon Christian Academy

Nov. 5 – Victory Baptist at Horizon Christian Academy, 6:30 p.m.

Horizon Christian Academy will enter the 2021 season as the reigning champions for the first time in school history.

The Warriors captured the GAPPS 8-man football Class 1A state championship last season against the David Emanuel Academy Eagles, bringing the school its first state title in football.

This year, Horizon Christian isn’t taking anybody by surprise.

“I try to tell them that it’s just a different approach now,” Horizon head coach Damon Taylor said. “We were hunting last year. Now every game for every other team is going to seem like homecoming for them. We just have to be prepared, and it’s a mental thing too, so I’m trying to get them prepared for that as well.”

2020 Results

5-4 Overall, 0-2 GAPPS Division I

Horizon Christian 61, Holy Spirit Prep 6

Cherokee Christian 52, Horizon Christian 21

Horizon Christian 49, Hearts Academy 7

Pinecrest Academy 52, Horizon Christian 48

Kings Way Christian 54, Horizon Christian 13

Fideles Christian 44, Horizon Christian 28

*Horizon Christian 26, Vidalia Heritage 6

*Horizon Christian 33, Kings Way Christian 32

*Horizon Christian 42, David Emanuel Academy 38

*Playoff game

A few of the players who helped Horizon make history last year graduated, including Malachi Mathis, who stepped in at quarterback during the Warriors playoff run.

However, Horizon’s roster features 19 players who have their sights set on defending their title.

“This year’s team looks really good, to say the least,” Taylor said. “We lost a big part of our offense in Malachi Mathis and Camden Moore, and also Isaac Bond. We lost Luke Sell early in the year – I think in the Pinecrest game – but Malachi Mathis and Camden Moore were huge parts of both sides of the ball. These guys have stepped up. We’ve got some new kids coming in that are also stepping up, so I’m looking forward to those guys stepping up to help fill that gap.”

Zane Lamonde returns after tearing his labrum last season and will play quarterback and linebacker.

Lamonde totaled 787 yards and 15 touchdown through the air last season, adding 294 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.

He also picked off two passes, made 45 tackles and had four sacks.

“I had to get full shoulder reconstruction,” Lamonde said. “I tore my labrum, so I ended up moving from quarterback to running back for the playoffs. I’m still kind of rehabbing through it, but I’m pretty much 100 percent now. It’s been about a six- to seven-month process, just starting with light movement and working up to throwing. I feel really good – actually, I feel better now than I probably did halfway through last year. I’m excited about it.”

Tanner Story, who will play wide receiver and cornerback, scored three touchdowns in Horizon’s win in the state championship game and finished the season with 834 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.

Despite the gaudy numbers, Taylor believes Story is even better this year.

“Like night and day,” Taylor said. “I think last year he was getting his wheels under him, just getting his routes any everything. I think last year his confidence grew. I think it was [three] touchdowns in the championship game. He had a huge game in the semifinals. Every game he got better and better and better. Honestly, I’m not just saying this because he’s on my team, but I don’t think anyone can stay in front of the kid. He’s just that fast. His route-running is just superb.”

Horizon held its opponent to just one score on three separate occasions last season. Taylor expects the Warriors to be stout on defense again.

“Last year that was one of the things that held us in check, was defense,” Taylor said. “Sometimes offensively when we couldn’t get it going, our defense we lead us down. I think we had one of the best defenses in the league. This year we’re not going to be that far off. I think we’re going to be pretty good on defense as well.”

The Warriors open the season against Fideles Christian, but the stage is set for their home opener the following week against Unity Christian. Unity steamrolled through their schedule last season to finish 10-0 and capture the GAPPS Division I-AA state championship.

Horizon hasn’t beaten the Lions since 2015, and the Warriors are hoping to make history one more time.