Longhorns must slow down Lions passing attack
By Rick Pedone
The stage is set for one of the most important regular season football games in Harmony High’s history.
The Longhorns (5-3, 4-1) host Lake Nona (6-2, 4-1) for the 7A-6 district runner-up spot, and a playoff berth, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Harmony has twice before reached the playoffs, as a Class 3A (now, 5A) district champion in 2007 and last year as a 7A district runner-up.
Coach Jerrad Butler and his players would like to make back-to-back playoff appearances.
“I think it’s very clear in what we’re trying to get accomplished, and we’re healthy and we’ll be ready,” Butler said. “There won’t be any excuses made. We’re excited for the opportunity, to play at home in a great atmosphere. It’s all you can ask for.”
The Longhorns were off last week after beating Liberty Oct. 17 for their third district win in a row.
Harmony prepared for Lake Nona’s passing attack, led by quarterback Tucker Israel, who leads Central Florida (165-252-2,625, 26 TDs) in passing. Receiver Ryan Sousa (71-1,149, 15 TDs), is a FSU commit.
The Lions average 457 yards a game with a wide-open spread offense, overwhelming most opponents except Winter Park and Osceola, their two losses.
Harmony wins with rugged defense that comes up with big plays in clutch situations, like when defensive lineman Jacob LaLiberte returned a fumble 20 yards for the winning touchdown at St. Cloud, or when the defense stacked up Liberty running back Kyle Sharman on a fourth-and-1 to preserve an important district victory.
“Those guys have played well for us all season, and Coach (Brian) Lambert has come up with a good plan for Lake Nona,” Butler said.
Horns linebacker Colton Keene leads the county with 109 tackles.
The best way to beat the Lions is to hang on to the ball. That was what Osceola did during its 35-21 win at Lake Nona three weeks ago.
Osceola dominated the second half, primarily on the ground, and ran out the last 6:39 on the clock.
The Longhorns offense has been hot and cold throughout the season, but quarterback Jeremiah Murray has led the team on several crucial touchdown drives late in the season.
“I feel like we’re getting better offensively. We’ve moved the ball pretty well, We’ve just got to score points,” Butler said.
Friday is Senior Night for Harmony. The team concludes the regular season at Eau Gallie Nov. 8.
“This is a real special group for the school, and for me. I’ve been with this group of seniors since they were freshmen,” Butler said. “We’re looking forward to this one, it’s what we’ve worked for all season.”