There is less of Latrell Horton this year, which means more trouble for opponents.
Horton, a senior two-way star for defending Long Island Class I champion Longwood, weighed 250 pounds last year when he was a blocking back for 1,000-yard runners Khalil Owens and Tahj Clark. Now he weighs 233, grew an inch to 6-0, and has increased his strength and speed.
“He was a devastating blocker last year and in the last two playoff games we started using him at tailback and he was breaking away from everybody. So it was a no-brainer to make him a tailback fulltime,” Longwood coach Jeff Cipp said.
Especially with the graduation of Owens and Clark.
“I use that as a motivation,” Horton said. “I know those guys were a big part of our team but now it’s up to me to show the younger players the ropes. I’ve been here for four years and been to the LIC. I have a lot of experience.”
Horton also has a lot of energy. In addition to carrying the ball much more often for the No. 1-seeded Lions – “Who wants to tackle 233?” Cipp said with a laugh -- he once again will be a starting inside linebacker. “He ran a 4.8 40 last year. Now he’s running in the high 4.6s, benches 300, cleans 275, squats 500. He did the work on his own in the offseason,” Cipp said. “He took it upon himself to lose the weight and get stronger. He’s tough as nails, doesn’t complain about anything and just does what we ask. He’ll be one of the best linebackers on the county.”
Losing weight will make it somewhat easier for Horton to shoulder such a heavy workload in 2016. “At 250, it might’ve been a little rough for him to get so many touches at tailback,” Cipp said, “but at 233, he’ll be a little fresher. We’ll need that. At linebacker, he’ll be one of the key components of our defense.”
Horton loves the idea of being a busy body and always has. He started at defensive tackle and tight end as a sophomore, played linebacker and fullback last year and once again will be a prominent dominant two-way player.
“I don’t favor offense or defense. I love both,” he said. “I’ll play anywhere or do anything. I never want to come off the field.”
Horton said he was driven to work so hard in the offseason “to improve my speed and my power. I’m quicker, way quicker, and stronger too,” he said.
He’s also become more of a leader, Cipp said.
“I want to be a better teammate,” Horton said.
That was part of Horton’s offseason plan, too.