L-R: PRICE DYER (WR/LB) SR EVAN WHITESIDE (QB/LB) SO COOPER GIDDENS (WR/CB) JR - Photos Andy Calvert

Odds are Unity Christian football coach David Humphreys has seen just about everything when it comes to high school football. Humphreys, who has been head coach at Rome, Trion, Gordon Central, and Unity, has had winning teams, playoff teams, losing teams, and more but last year’s venture into the realm of eight-man football at Unity was a bit of a change. 

“Eight-man football is still football but it’s definitely different from 11-man football,” Humphreys says. “You basically take out two linemen and one skill position player. The field is still 100 yards, and it’s 40 yards wide meaning it’s a space game. So defenders have to be able to make a tackle in the open field.” 

The wide-open nature of the game tends to favor offenses. Last year, Unity’s offense churned right along, as the Lions advanced to the second round of the GAPPS (Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools) Playoffs. The Lions are used to deep runs in the playoffs having won a state title a couple of years back and perennially fielding teams that finish amongst the top in their region. 

Those expectations are still present as the Lions prepare to embark on the 2022 campaign. 

“We had a good offseason. We consistently had about half of our team lifting. The other half was usually playing another sport. This summer we’ve had great participation in the program,” Humphreys says. “We’re excited because this is really the first time in three or four years here where we did a lot in the summer.” 

With the eight-man game favoring offenses, the Lions return a couple of key skill players in Cooper Giddens and Price Dyer. Giddens was all-state last year, and he serves as a deep-threat at wide receiver and a solid defensive back as well. Price Dyer, who plays tight end, is capable of scoring when he touches the ball as well as commanding the middle when he plays linebacker on defense. 

Evan Whiteside will take over the quarterback role for Unity this season. He’s had limited snaps but Humphreys believes he will mature quickly once the games begin. 

Herb shop ad

Humphreys also mentions Avery Alford, who played a lot of linebacker last year and will also get some touches at running back this year as a key cog for the Lions. 

“Those are the guys we are looking for right off the bat as players that we have high expectations for,” he says.  

Another obstacle Humphreys faces at Unity is a bit of unknown value when it comes to opposing teams.  

“One of the issues is that the rosters on the other teams can be pretty fluid. Last year, a few of the teams in our region were senior-laden, so we’re not sure what they’re going to have back this year,” he says. “We just need to kind of worry about ourselves and do what we can. I think we will be strong on defense. Hopefully, we can mature on offense, and it can catch up with our defense as the season goes on.” 

As for what the Lions will need to do to try to get to the top of the region and possibly make a run for the playoffs, Humphreys says it’s a cliché but believes it holds true. 

“I think we just have to improve each and every week. I see us having the ability to do that,” Humphreys says. “I see our team having the ability to really find its stride by game four or five as long as we stay healthy and keep working hard.” 

La Scala ad

An injury while running at Auburn ended Jim Alred’s long-shot hopes of possibly competing in the Olympics, so he turned to writing and has been crafting award-winning stories across multiple mediums ever since. Along the way he’s been chased by a grizzly bear, worked as Goofy at Walt Disney World, been nominated for two Emmys, interviewed celebrities like Tiger Woods, Bo Jackson, Bill Clinton, coaches his daughters in cross country and soccer and can often be found running with his wife, Tara, around Rome.