When Don Simon stepped down from his position it ushered in a new era of Harmony football as the Longhorns program would be under a new head coach for the first time in almost a decade.  But despite a new man in charge, don’t expect a ton of change in the program’s approach to the game as Simon’s long-time assistant Nick Lippert takes over.

First, Lippert has been a member of Simon’s staff for a long time – having moved with Simon from North Carolina when the veteran coach first took the job.  He has been Simon’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the entire time and was heavily endorsed by Simon to be his replacement.

“Nick has been working for this opportunity all his life,” Simon told Positively Osceola last spring.  “He’s qualified and ready to become a head coach.”

For his part, Lippert says not a whole lot will change, especially on defense – where Harmony had a reputation of being a physical team.  “My new defensive coordinator has been with us for a long time too, and he knows what I like to do.  We are going to continue to be a physical team.”

A team pretty much known as a run-first offense, one change you might see under Lippert is more of a willingness to throw the ball – at least more than they have in the past.  “We have always been a ground-and-pound run oriented offense and we still plan on running the ball a lot but I could see us throwing the ball a little bit more that we have in previous years,” Lippert said.

Facing a difficult 4S, District 11 schedule — as well as a seven-game non-district schedule where four of the seven teams posted winning records in 2022 – the Horns will have a lot of new faces at practically every position thanks to graduation.

Harmony’s entire starting backfield, including record setting running back Tyler Emans, quarterback Ayden Parks and electric running back/slot receiver Cooper Richards have departed.  Still, with more than 90 players out this fall, Lippert says there is talent left on the squad.  Junior Kai Amen, a former wide receiver, and sophomore Matt Davis are among the candidates battling for the quarterback job.  Jeremy Hilliard is a talented running back that has been patiently waiting his turn at running back.  Led by Michael Capranica (6-3, 300) and transfer Rick Sorano, the Longhorns do have some talent on the offensive line.

The strength of the defense will come in the backfield, where the Longhorns return Division-1 commit Alex Nash, Chase Adams and safety Conner Flaherty.  That group combined for 109 tackles, six interceptions and 16 pass breakups last season.  

On the defensive front, Clayton Williams (6 TFL, 8 QB hurries) returns, as does Mekhi Ealy – who saw significant playing time as a freshman last year. The departure of Dalton Phelan (transfer – Lake Nona) was a big loss, but senior Ian Brigham (5-9, 190) could help fill the void.

Harmony did lose all-county kicker/punter Alex Tuyo to graduation. A gifted athlete, Tuyo made all-county teams in football, soccer and track and will leave big shoes to fill.  Freshman Brayden Buehler is another soccer player who could replace him.

Lippert points to the season opener with Eutis (8/25), as well as non-district games with Tohopekaliga and St. Cloud as important games for his young squad.  “Obviously we want to get off to a fast start, so the season opener is going to be real big for us.  Nothing needs to be said about the St. Cloud game and what that means to both teams, but Tohopekaliga has the makings of another big rivalry game for us – especially after Coach Simon moved their as athletics director.”

2023 Schedule

Kickoff Classic (Exhibition)

  • Aug. 18 American 7 p.m.

Regular Season

  • Aug. 25 Eustis 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 1 Celebration 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 8 at Palm Bay 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 22 Wiregrass Ranch 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 29 at Melbourne 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 6 at Hagerty 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 13 Viera 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 20 Tohopekaliga 7 p.m.
  • Oct. 27 at Heritage 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 3 at St. Cloud 7:30 p.m.