Harmony taking care of business
By Rick Pedone
Harmony was all business last week in dispatching district 7A-6 rival Celebration, 41-0, at Storm field.
The Longhorns, 4-3 and 3-1, host Liberty Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for another key district contest. The Chargers are 2-5 and 1-3, falling out of playoff contention after losing at Gateway last week, 17-10.
The Longhorns jumped to a 7-0 lead just seconds into the game when quarterback Jeremiah Murray found Tristan Reeves on a 58-yard TD pass play.
After a punt return, the Longhorns struck again on their next possession for a 14-0 lead and weren’t challenged by the Storm, who slipped to 0-7 and 0-3.
Artell Blackwell rushed 19 times for 120 yards and a touchdown. Jose Aquilar rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown, and Alex Britton gained 53 yards and scored twice. Pierce Vermillion also ran for a score for the Longhorns, who substituted for much of the game.
“We did a good job of coming out and scoring early. I think we were able to put some things together that we’ve seen coming along offensively,” Butler said. “The offensive line is playing more aggressively.”
Despite limited duty, Horns linebacker Colton Keene went over 100 tackles (101) for the season before leaving the game.
The Longhorns, over .500 for the first time since winning their 2011 season opener, control their playoff destiny and can be no worse than the district runner-up by beating Liberty and, after an open date, Lake Nona on Nov. 1.
“We’ve got to win out. That’s the most important thing at this point,” Butler said.
Harmony emerged from the Celebration game without a serious injury, although senior running back Jacob Shearsby was lost for the season after suffering a fractured vertebrae against Osceola three weeks ago.
Liberty has been a challenge for Harmony recently, coming up with victories the past two seasons. Last year, the Chargers scored late in the fourth quarter to win, 12-8, on a flooded field. Two years ago, the game was postponed until Saturday because of lightning, with the Chargers winning, 50-20.
“That’s left a sour taste for our kids. They remember that. It won’t take a lot of talking to get them ready to play this week,” Butler said.
The Chargers, though struggling, have plenty of offensive weapons, Butler said.
“The quarterback (Patrick Knight) is pretty good, and No. 5 (Kyle Sharman) and No. 14 (Markel Brown) can make things happen,” Butler said. “They fly around on defense, the way our guys do.”
Liberty Coach Cory Johns said his team was in position to win at Gateway.
“We were in the red zone three of four times but couldn’t finish,” he said. “We just have to learn how to take advantage of opportunities when they are presented.”