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2021 Season Recap for Hamony Grove Hornets

by Michael Hanich | November 22, 2021 at 8:13 p.m.
Photo By: Michael Hanich Harmony Grove Walker Sweat (79), Tobias Hicks (1), and Logan McCann (53) all combine to stop the running back of Junction City.

There were high expectations for the Harmony Grove Hornets (8-4; 6-1 in 3A-6 conference play) in the 2021 Arkansas high school football season. The Hornets were coming off a rebuilding season after losing high-caliber, talented seniors in 2019.

Harmony Grove has many talented seniors this season that made a huge impact on both sides of the ball.

They also had a tough and brutal schedule that consisted of three teams (Fordyce, Harding Academy and McGehee) who had either won the state title or played in state championship games last season. Although Harmony Grove lost all three of those games, they were able to bounce back in a big way as they finished the regular season with a 7-3 record and second in the 3A region-6 conference.

The Hornets' big wins on the road versus the Lake Village Beavers and at home versus the Rison Wildcats got the team a great spot in the 3A State Playoffs. The Hornets would defeat the Harrisburg Hornets at home in round one of the playoffs with a 35-29 comeback in the "Battle of the Hornets' nest."

Their season ended in a tough matchup at home in the second round versus the Glen Rose Beavers, where they lost 28-7.

Harmony Grove's selection of talented seniors and young players on offense averaged 31.2 points per game. The offense was led by the two dynamic running backs, Tobias Hicks and Daniel Hill, who were some of the most efficient backs in the conference. Hicks rushed for 680 yards and ten touchdowns on 62 carries, while Hill rushed for 491 yards and nine touchdowns on 56 carries. Both Hicks and Hill were dangerous backs on the outside as their speed and aggressiveness were tough for the opposing defenses to stop consistently.

Hicks's best game was in the 35-14 win at Barton when he rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns on four carries. Hill's best game was in the 43-13 win at Lake Village when he rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on four carries. The offensive line, led by senior left tackle Logan McCann, was instrumental in creating great down blocks towards the outside.

Head coach Ernie Horstkamp trusted sophomore quarterback Caleb Johnson to lead the Hornets after a strong finish to the 2020 season. Johnson was consistent with the ball, avoiding big mistakes and making big plays happen through the running game.

In ten games this season, before the loss to Glen Rose, Johnson threw for 75-of-147 completions for 1,569 yards, 20 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 114.5. In times where the coaching staff of Harmony Grove needed Johnson to step up from his game-manager role, he played tremendously.

Johnson's best game of the season was in the 41-30 win over Rison, where he passed for 11-of-18 completions for 248 yards, five touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 144.7.

The Hornets had a diverse set of impact receivers this season for them to utilize. Sophomore wide receiver Landon Garrett led the team in receptions (22), receiving yards (573) and touchdowns (8). Garrett was a problem all season long for opposing defensive backs with his vertical speed and ability to fight for the ball against defensive backs in tight contention.

Senior wide receiver Titus Lockhart caught 14 receptions for 345 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Gabe Johnson and senior Austin McDonald were great short route and red zone receivers for Harmony Grove. The program could see a potential star in freshman Trent Haygood, who has come as a big-time receiver after being moved up from junior varsity late in the season. Haygood caught six receptions for 160 yards and three touchdowns.

The pride of Harmony Grove this season was their defense, as they had high-caliber players throughout the field. Harmony Grove allowed an average of 21.9 points per game. They had five games where they allowed 14 points or less this season. The front-seven for the Hornets has been one of the most aggressive units in south Arkansas.

Senior defensive end Logan McCann is one of the main leaders of the defensive line as he is one of the players that set the edge for the Hornets. In the first 11 games, McCann has accounted for 55 total tackles, 32 solo tackles and 16 tackles for loss.

At the defensive tackle positions, seniors Grant Bearden, Walker Sweat, and Bacarre Thomas established key roles in closing off running lanes at the line of scrimmage and even getting to the quarterback. Bearden accumulated 34 total tackles, 22 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss,and five sacks. Sweat has been a monster at the one-technique defensive tackle all season as he accounted for 57 total tackles, 37 solo tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

The linebackers for Harmony Grove have been one of the most efficient units throughout the season, utilizing a combination of talent and depth. Senior linebackers Daniel Hill, Tobias Hicks and Jermaine Edwards have been high-volume playmakers for the defense throughout the season. The three Hornets have accumulated 193 total tackles, 130 solo tackles and 33 tackles for loss in nine games. Hicks accounted for five sacks this season through a series of efficient blitzes.

Sophomore Cannon Booker led the team in total tackles accounted for with 70. Senior linebacker Preston Hendrix was a consistent playmaker for Harmony Grove's defense as he accounted for 63 total tackles.

The secondary for Harmony Grove has been better throughout the season. One of the best defensive backs this season was sophomore Landon Garrett, who accounted for seven interceptions, three of which were returned for a touchdown, and six pass breakups. He is going to be a huge problem for opposing offenses in the next two seasons as he can stay in tight coverage matching the receiver's speed and turns in routes.

Senior safety Jailen Thrower has been a great playmaker for the Hornets when they go one-high or two-high safety. Thrower accounted for 47 total tackles, 32 solo tackles and two pass breakups. Sophomores Caleb Johnson and DaVonta Hubbard are two highly efficient coverage cornerbacks as Hubbard can also provide great short pass coverage at safety.

While they suffered some tough one-sided losses this season, Harmony Grove flexed their way to a stout season where they finished second in the conference. That was evident by their ranking in the 3A Hootens poll at #9 before their second-round matchup versus Glen Rose.

They will be missing a lot of key seniors next season, but there should be plenty of reasons why the Harmony Grove Hornets will be back at contending for the conference title and a deep run in the 3A Playoff in the 2022 season.

Print Headline: 2021 Season Recap for Hamony Grove Hornets

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