Zach Calzada
Lanier quarterback Zach Calzada scrambles to gain yardage for Lanier during the play off game against Lee County Friday night. Lanier lost to the Trojans 42-7. (Photo: Nicole Seitz)

The 2018 Lanier High School Longhorns Varsity Football team has made history.  No other team in school history managed to earn a spot in the GHSA state quarterfinals.  The Longhorns were the underdogs in so many situations during the season but they all believed in each other.  They played with grit as to not let their teammates down. This team became a brotherhood.

The Longhorns, coached by Korey Mobbs achieved an overall season record of ten wins and four losses (10-4).  No one could believe that the Longhorns managed to reach the semifinals of the state AAAAAA playoffs. No one but the players and coaches who believed that they could get to that level.

Their season almost crumbled just two games in when senior quarterback and Texas A & M commit Zach Calzada was seriously injured in their second game of the season at Central Gwinnett.  Calzada’s injuries required a short stay in the hospital and a stint on the injured reserve list. Calzada and junior Taj Barnes were the offensive standouts this season.

Lanier defensive player Jacoby Sharpe’s mom (orange shirt) cheered loudly as the buses carrying the players came into view. Photo credit: Alicia Couch Payne

Lanier had a talent-rich defensive line.  Week after week guys like Kameron Brown, Phillip Webb, Joshua Townes, Trey Short, and Isaiah Smith.  Junior Phillip Webb led the Longhorns in sacks. Kameron Brown led Lanier with the most tackles.

The student body at Lanier High School, the staff, and the community of Sugar Hill really got behind the Longhorn’s historic playoff run. The City of Sugar Hill called for the residents of the city to rally behind Lanier by coming out to send off the Longhorns on their way to Lee County.  The players rode through downtown Sugar Hill on their way to Leesburg, Ga.

Kameron Brown
A Lee County player gets a brutal tackle by Lanier defensive star, Kameron Brown. Photo credit: Nicole Seitz

Sugar Hill officials including Mayor Edwards, Councilmember Hembree, and Councilmember Anderson, as well as other city workers gathered with the crowd at 9 a.m. on Friday, November 30, 2018.  The crowd lined West Broad Street on both sides of the street in between Sugar Hill City Hall and the new E Center. People in the crowd held up signs wishing the team well. The marquee at the Eagle Theatre advertised the game.  

Fans send off the Longhorns in downtown Sugar Hill. Photo credit: Alicia Couch Payne

As the buses appeared the crowd’s energy ramped up and the cheers got deafening.  The look of pride on everyone’s faces as the buses came to a stop was visible. Head Coach, Korey Mobbs got off the bus much to the crowd’s delight.

I managed to get permission to board the players’ bus to take photos.  The coaches were all smiles and giving the hook em horns symbol. The players each took advantage of the photo op.  Those players will remember that moment for the rest of their lives. The moment the town showed up to send them off, the moment the entire town was proud of them.  A historic moment.

Players and coaches loaded up and on their way to the semifinal game against Lee County. Photo credit: Alicia Couch Payne

Even though the Longhorns were not able to beat the undefeated Lee County, they had every reason to celebrate.  The players learned about brotherhood, perseverance, and what it meant to be the victorious underdog. Trolling Twitter, one player after another posted about what an incredible season this was, about the friendships and memories made.

J. Richardson
Lanier wide receiver Jahkai Richardson catches a pass against Lee County. Photo credit: Nicole Seitz

To the 2018 Lanier Varsity football team — Congratulations on your semifinal run into the playoffs, for making history.  Your city, your community is extremely proud of y’all. Hook em Horns!



Alicia joined the North Gwinnett Voice, as the Editor, shortly after the first publication. She is a homegrown Buford native, with the southern charm and "bless your heart" included. ...

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