Horizon Christian coach Charles Wiggins spent nine years building Pinecrest Academy’s football program from scratch, leading the Paladins to the Georgia Independent School Association state semifinals in 2009 before taking the program to the Georgia High School Association in 2010.
He’s trying to do the same for Horizon’s football program, which started in 2010 and shuffled through two coaches in its first two years in existence. Wiggins took over before the 2013 season.
The Warriors finished 0-10 in Wiggins’ first season at the helm. Only four of 22 players on the roster had played football previously. Horizon returns 18 of those players for the 2014 season.
"We’re laying the groundwork to build this program," Wiggins said. "We’ve already improved 100 percent over last year. If we continue to take it a game at a time, the wins will come."
Horizon runs a spread-option attack that struggled to move the ball in Wiggins’ first season. Sophomore quarterback John Michael Booth (5-8, 170) returns, as does senior running back Travis Pittman (5-10, 185). Pittman led the Warriors’ ground attack last season with 650 yards, Wiggins estimates.
Michael Walker (6-2, 210), a senior tight end, provides a big target for Booth.
"He’s got great hands and is a strong run blocker. He does it all," Wiggins said. Walker claims interest from Kennesaw State and camped at a number of colleges this summer.
The Warriors boast a stout defensive line that sets the tone for defensive coordinator Gary Wansley’s 3-5-3 alignment.
"We’re kind of huge up front," Wiggins said.
Linemen Chase Brown (Jr. 6-1, 210), Justin Windsor (Sr., 6-2, 245) and John Winkler (Sr, 6-1, 285) form a trio with more girth than most opponents will see. Wiggins expects a strong comeback from Winkler, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year.
Pittman and Walker help anchor a linebacker corps that also features Cole Brown (Jr., 6-1, 215), Chase’s twin brother, and James Kimbrough (Sr., 6-0, 170), who plays the ‘stud’ outside linebacker position.
In the secondary, senior Sean Ludwick (5-8, 145) leads the way.