Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Lanier's Jordan Humphrey (28) stiff arms Mill Creek's Dustin Johnson (85) last Thursday.
It was this time last year when Tim Hardy was in Billy Wells’ shoes.
Hardy, the head coach at Mountain View, was starting the Bears’ football program from scratch. It’s the same task Wells is facing at first-year school Lanier this season.
MOUNTAIN VIEW AT LANIER
Mountain View Bears (7-AAAAA)
Coach: Tim Hardy
Last week: Lost to Archer 17-14
Lanier Longhorns (non-region)
Coach: Billy Wells
Record: 0-0 (0-1 junior varsity)
Last week: Lost to Mill Creek JV 35-7
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: First meeting
Directions to Lanier High School: From I-85, go west on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and turn right on Buford Highway. School is on the left.
The duo have bounced ideas off each other over the last few weeks leading up to tonight’s game at Lanier. Things like how to deal with a team full of underclassmen, equipment and philosophies on building a program.
“He had a lot of great ideas on his own,” Hardy said of Wells. “That’s the great thing about the coaching fraternity in Gwinnett, is that you can share ides.”
Tonight’s game against Mountain View will be Lanier’s only varsity game of the season. The Longhorns are playing a predominantly junior varsity schedule and lost to Mill Creek’s JV last week in their season opener.
“Over half the team is freshmen, so a lot of them this will be their first varsity game. A lot of them have never even seen a varsity game,” Wells said. “They will have to get used to the Friday night atmosphere and everything that goes with it.”
Wells was hired at Lanier, which drew most of its students from North Gwinnett, after being the head coach at Collins Hill the last two years.
Dante Borders scored the first touchdown in school history last week, but is out for the season with a broken ankle. The Longhorns also lost their starting quarterback to an ACL injury.
“Certainly missing two kids isn’t good, but you have to keep your other goals in sight,” Wells said.
Chauncey West, Onyx and Pablo Barrios and Brian Krause have stood out for the Longhorns.
“In Gwinnett County, when you start a program you’re going to have some talent,” Hardy said. “But what stood out to me about them is they have good size on both sides of the ball.”
Mountain View was 4-0 in varsity games last season, but is off to an 0-2 start against Class AAAAA competition. The Bears opened the season with a loss to upstart Central Gwinnett and lost to rival Archer last week.
“We have to do what we’re capable of doing. Our execution is the main thing that is hurting us,” Hardy said. “We’re ready to get back on the horse. We don’t feel like we’ve played our best the last two weeks.”
The offensive line has taken tremendous steps in development the last two weeks, led by junior Preston Blue. Jonathan Coleman also had eight knockdown blocks last week.
Linebacker Matt Herman, who had 13 tackles (one for loss), has come on as the team’s defensive leader. Joshua Briggman had nine tackles last week.
“We take it one week at a time and we’re eager to get that first win,” Hardy said. “I told our kids, Lanier isn’t just a good first-year team. They are a good Gwinnett first-year team.”
Both teams only feature a handful of senior players and their rosters are littered with underclassmen. After tonight’s game the schedule will only get tougher for Mountain View, which will play some of the top teams in the state on its region schedule.
“We’re more like Lanier than North Gwinnett or Norcross in terms of program and experience, so it’s a good matchup,” Hardy said. “They are looking good for a first-year program.”