High School Football

Multi-talented Horner is Columbia’s jack-of-all trades on the football field

In this football family, twins are coached by their father

Brothers Nic Horner and Sam Horner are members of the Columbia, Illinois High School Eagles football team in southern Illinois which is coached by their father Scott Horner.
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Brothers Nic Horner and Sam Horner are members of the Columbia, Illinois High School Eagles football team in southern Illinois which is coached by their father Scott Horner.

Columbia High School junior Sam Horner will never get bored on the football field. There just isn’t enough time.

A gifted all-around athlete, the 5-foot-11 185-pound Horner was the Eagles go-to guy in every aspect of the game this season. On offense, Horner was the favorite target of Eagles quarterback and twin brother Nic Horner, hauling in 31 passes for 475 yards and six touchdowns.

On special teams, Horner was Columbia’s placekicker finishing with six field goals and 37 points after touchdown, and was also one of the top punters in the Cahokia Conference, averaging just under 36 yards per kick.

Adding to all of this is that Horner was one of the top defensive backs in the metro east and the unquestioned leader of Eagles defensive coordinator Scott Germain’s secondary. It’s easy to see why Columbia head coach Scott Horner’s son was one tired football player by the time the clock counted down the end of the game each Friday night.

“I enjoy being on the field. I just like to do what I can,’’ Horner said recently, “If something goes the wrong way, I’m like what could I have done to change the outcome? I just like being involved in every single play.

““Yes, it’s difficult. It’s easier to go from offense to defense because if something goes wrong on offense, you can take it out on the defensive side of the ball. I think its easier to make an impact on offense. When you have the football in your hands, its easier to make things happen.’’

One of many talented underclassmen on an Eagles team which finished 8-3 and advanced to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs where it lost to Taylorville, Horner made things happen all over the field.

He was credited with 58 tackles, including 48 solo stops and a pair of interception. Voted by area coaches as the Belleville News-Demcrat co-defensive small school player of the year, having Horner in the defensive backfield was like having a coach on the field.

“Coach (Germain) and I talk a lot. He has been coaching with my dad for many years and our families are close. Gowing up, I was around the (football program) and already knew what coach Germain wanted to do,’’ Horner said. “He has a lot of trust in me in that I’ll make the right calls out there. I think I make the right calls most of the time.’’

Horner’s effort for the Eagles was much appreciated by his coach and father. who knows the amount of time that is needed to do everything his son can do on a football field.

“Sam is being honored as a defensive player this year, but he’s actually someone who did a little bit of everything for this football team,’’ Scott Horner said. “He played several positions on offense but on defense, he basically ran our defensive secondary.

“What people don’t see from week to week is that coaches have their hands in coverages and how to lineup in different formations and things like that. But when game time comes, the players have to make decisions and adjustments on the field. Sam took a lot of pride in being able to do that. He and Coach Germain have a great relationship and he knows what Coach Germain wants done. He kind of let everybody know what was going on but you have to be able to perform yourself.’’

What Sam Horner also took a lot of pride in was the different mindset it had this season.

“This season was more successful for one. In fact our motto this year was culture first. We had a number of issues last year and this year they were fixed,’’ Sam Horner said. “ This year everything clicked and you could tell. This year everyone was really into it. It was good.

“This year everybody respected each other, respected the coaches.. That made us a much closer football team.’’