Last year's 1-9 season was not only uncharacteristic of the Greater Atlanta Christian School football program, but also uncharacteristic of a Spartan team led by one of the three Harber brothers.
David Harber aims to turn things around immediately. The senior running back/defensive back will look to pick up where his older brothers Trey and Stephen left off and lead GAC back to the state playoffs and competing for a region championship this season.
"I try to look at it as my own journey," David Harber said. "I like to learn from what they did."
"GAC's a special place," GAC head football coach Tim Cokely said. "It's a family here. When we talk about the Spartan football family or the GAC family, we're not just talking about a family, we're talking an all-encompassing family. The most valuable part to his leadership is his ability to make that connection to the past, to his family and to the GAC football family."
In 2006, Trey Harber shared the Spartan backfield with current University of Georgia starter Caleb King and helped GAC to an 11-2 record and a berth in the state quarterfinals. Filling in for a sidelined King, Harber carried the ball 12 times for 53 yards and one touchdown in a 31-7 win over Wesleyan during the regular season. As both a sophomore and a junior, he helped GAC to back-to-back, nine-win seasons.
Stephen Harber assumed a different role in his four years at GAC, playing fullback and defensive line for the Spartans. He was a freshman on that 2006 team and helped GAC return to the quarterfinals and a 9-4 record the next year. As a senior on last year's team, he led the team in sacks (seven) and was second on the team in tackles (45). He also holds the school record for sacks in a game (three) in GAC's 2008 game against Lovett.
"The word (to describe the Harbers) is toughness," said former GAC head football coach and current offensive line coach Jimmy Chupp, who has coached all three brothers. "They're just really tough kids. They have just been great football players for GAC. Now, they have all had kind of different roles because of their physical nature. We've been really fortunate to have them play Spartan football."
As more of a role player last year, David recorded 35 tackles, a safety and a forced fumble on defense and carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards. This year, as a senior, he will be one of the featured running backs and also playing a key role in GAC's secondary.
He may also find himself handling the Spartans' punting duties as well. He had six tackles and a pass breakup Friday as GAC won its opener over Columbia.
"I enjoy breaking a big run, but nothing beats making a big hit on somebody, David Harber said. "But, really, I enjoy both positions. Wherever the coaches put me, I'm ready to play."
"Anybody you talk to would say David's the heart and soul of our team, a lifelong GAC kid," Cokely said. "As he goes, so goes our team."
Like his older brothers, he will be doing a little bit of everything while also providing some toughness and leadership to help GAC rebound this season.
"He's a quiet leader," Cokely said "I'm big on guys (like David) that go to class, do what they're supposed to do, and make plays on the field. What you do speaks louder than what you say. And he's a great example of that. He comes to practice every day and practices hard. That's contagious."