Photo by Heather Middleton
By Doug Gorman
Tyrone Barnes, owner, general manager and offensive coordinator of the Henry Horsemen knows his semi-pro football team faces its biggest challenge in the team's three-year existence.
That's because the Horsemen have jumped into the Gridiron Development Football League, a national organization with teams spread throughout the country.
The league is a little more competitive than what the Horsemen have experienced in the past, according to Barnes.
"There are more than 100 teams affiliated with the league, so we think we can get some of our players more exposure, and maybe those who are still eligible can play in college," Barnes said.
Barnes hopes those who are out of college eligibility might draw some attention from some of the arena leagues.
The Horsemen have had success since the franchise first stepped on the field in 2008. That first year, the team won the Semi-Pro national title. They have made the playoffs every year.
Strong Rock Christian has rented its football stadium to the team for its home contests. The Horsemen play their first home game of the season Saturday against the Georgia Crush, a squad from the Macon area.
Kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m. and tickets are $10.
Barnes says fans coming out for the first time, can expect to see some wide open, competitive football.
"We are really fortunate because several of our players have been with us since the team started," Barnes said.
It gives the Horsemen plenty of experience heading into the new league.
Two experienced quarterbacks are in the mix for playing time. Charles McCullum is back for the 2011 season. McCullum also plays in Arealeague2. Quarterback Theo Maxie has three years of experience with the Horsemen.
Defensively linebacker DeAnthony Weems, defensive tackle Tavaris Johnson and defensive end Kenny Arnold are Horsemen veterans.
In addition to two veteran quarterbacks, depth won't be a problem at the other skilled positions. Andrew Powell and Jonathan George are experienced wide receivers.
Running backs Brandon Shelby and Dae Spence have also had plenty of playing time in the past with the Horsemen. Wide receiver Greg Jennings has also caught the attention of the Horsemen's coaching staff.
Other players to watch include corner back Devon Chapman and linebacker Brandon Howard.
Former Mississippi State football player De'Mon Glanton is listed as a safety on this year's roster.
Kicker/punter Derrick Arrington played at Eagle's Landing and
Offensive lineman Dan Woodruff played at Henry County.
The Horsemen started the season with a 41-6 road victory last week against the Atlanta Lions.
Despite the large margin of victory. Barnes wasn't totally pleased.
"It was a good win for us, but there is still plenty of work to do," he said.