History in the making

Clay Central head coach Danny Horn enters the 2019 season one win away from 300 career victories.

It seems there’s only one thing that can stop Danny Horn from reaching a milestone reserved for the truly elite high school football coaches.

The Clay Central head coach enters Friday’s regular season opener against Benjamin Russell one victory shy of 300 for his coaching career, and getting to that rarified milestone at some point this year seems to be something of an inevitability.

“If the good Lord allows me to live through the season, which I thought He was going to take me the other night, it’s going to come sooner or later,” Horn said.

Horn’s reference to his demise was fully tongue in cheek. He was none too pleased with his team’s effort in a 27-10 scrimmage loss to Shades Valley Thursday.

“I didn’t think we played with any emotion, with any intensity. We just didn’t play that well, didn’t play hard. I was really disturbed by it and still am,” he said. “Getting beat, that’s not the point. The point is you’re trying to get better each and every day in practice, and I thought we took a step backwards. We weren’t physical. We couldn’t tackle anybody. It wasn’t too good of a day for us.”

Better days for Horn surely lie ahead. Even if he doesn’t reach the 300 mark this week against his former team, it will most certainly come at some point this season. And when it does he’ll become just the sixth coach in the history of Alabama high school football with 300 wins all coming at Alabama schools.

While much of the Alabama high school football world will have its eyes on Horn Friday, he has done nothing to turn the attention onto himself in regard to preparing his players for the game.

“I don’t think that has any bearing on how the game is going to be played,” Horn said. “If that’s the case then they’re playing for the wrong reasons. I haven’t mentioned it. I’m sure some of them may know. Some of them may not know. But that’ll happen when it happens.”

It would be a somewhat poetic way to reach such a lofty milestone. Benjamin Russell is the only place outside of Clay County where Horn has coached. Sixty-two of his 299 wins came at the school over a nine-year period.

But Horn downplayed that element of the story and steered the focus back toward what his team has to do make 300 a reality.

“We’ll have to play extremely well,” he said. “We can’t turn the ball over, and we’ll have to tackle a heck of a lot better. It’s going to be tough. They’ve got a good team this year. It’s going to take things kind of falling into place for us to win. But it can happen. We’ll have to play extremely well and catch a break here or there in order to win. That’s possible.”

Benjamin Russell defeated Central 28-23 in last year’s season opener, which was also Horn’s debut as the Central head coach. After a 3-3 start, Horn led Central on a 9-game winning streak all the way to the 5A state championship as season ago. That run put him on the doorstep of an historical precipice.

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