Photos Andy Calvert
For Unity Christian, 2020 had the full range of emotions: the drive to avenge their 2019 championship game loss; the anxiety, fear, and frustration of dealing with the pandemic; the devastation of a family tragedy; and then the total elation and pride of achieving the goal, reaching the championship game with the opportunity to redeem themselves.
In the end, it went like anything else in 2020, unexpectedly. While the Lions ended up winning a championship (an undefeated championship, at that), it wasn’t exactly how they wanted to do it.
“It was shock and disbelief,” says Coach Nick Jones. “We were excited to be crowned the state champs, but the competitor in each of us wanted to play that game.”
2021 will bring some changes to the Lions. They have a new head football coach in David Humphries, who has coached at a few local schools in the past. Coach Jones will remain on at UCS as assistant head coach.
“I think these kids have been very well trained, as they are all very fit,” says Jones. “A lot of them will be in new positions.”
The Lions graduated 7 seniors that were mostly big-time players. In the tradition of next man up, the next set of seniors are on the way to battle it out for a chance to repeat as champions.
Senior John Nance will be the quarterback in 2021, and he comes into his senior year looking to cap his career with another GAPPS championship. The Lions will be leaning heavily on his leadership and experience to reach that lofty goal.
Senior outside linebacker Bailey Mohler looks to anchor the defense this year and Unity Christian hopes to repeat in 2021.
With Humphries in the fold and excited about the challenges ahead, they hope to continue on the trail they followed last year.
After dominating their region and eventually emerging as champions despite navigating through different types of tough situations, the Lions look to repeat as GAPPS I-AA Region 1 (8 Man) champions and as GAPPS Champions in 2021.