By Chris Parker & Mark Spillane
Lighthouse Christian football continued a strong run of success last year by winning another Homeschool National Championship in Florida on Nov. 18 last year. The Chargers beat the Central Maryland Christian Crusaders 24-16 to win the championship.
The Chargers were 9-4 overall last year playing a schedule that featured wins over MSHSAA teams like East Newton, Springfield Central, Jasper and Forsyth. Those early games against MSHSAA schools have helped Lighthouse Christian come playoff time according to head coach Rian Bess.
“We spend the first half of our season playing public school teams. It is great for us because it gets us ready to go down there (at the national championship),” Bess said.
Senior Ryan Jones will be one of the leaders this year playing on the offensive line and linebacker.
“He is one of those selfless guys,” Bess said. “He plays offensive line and linebacker. He is just a great kid and a tough player.”
Jones also leads off the field for Lighthouse Christian as their mission is larger than wins and losses.
“We a football team, but first and foremost we are a ministry. We really try to dive into these guys and grow them to the Lord,” Bess said.
The Chargers will again throw the ball around quite a bit going five-wide at times. It is an offensive strategy that has developed out of necessity based on personnel.
“A couple years ago we were a much bigger team so we played smash-mouth, in between the tackles and just ran it at you,” Bess said. “The last few years our line just hasn’t been as big so we knew we had to make an adjustment. A lot of teams will run the same offense year after year, but we can’t necessarily do that because we have to look at what we have. (Do) we have enough big guys to run (the ball)? If not we are going to throw the ball. We have some incredible receivers so it makes it easy.”
Keying that offense will be senior quarterback Colby Fields.
“This will be his first year starting at quarterback, but he has put in his time,” Bess said. “He is tall and he makes good reads. When we are running five-wide it is nice because we are going to get some guys open and he is good about finding (them).”
The Chargers will have to gel as a team with several new players starting this year, but the goal of winning another National Championship will remain unchanged.
“We have some new guys in key positions so we need to make sure they understand their responsibilities,” Bess said. “We want to always talk about unity and staying unified. Then we want to put up points quick. That is our thing this year. We want to try and put up points as fast as we can.”