The Noblesville Lions football team unified through a year of adversity when the nation was faced with a pandemic and racial unrest.
“We had boys from all different cultures of life, and how to bring them together under one common principal of love (was the goal),” Lions assistant coach Harold MacMillan said. “The biggest command from God is to love one another, and that in itself was what brought this team together and unified it.”
The Lions (8-5) won the 4-year-old Great Lakes Christian Athletic Conference championship for the first time.
“We ended the regular season a week early and everyone made the playoffs because of the uncertainty of COVID,” said MacMillan, who also serves as athletic director for the Lions Football and Cheerleading Club.
The Lions, mostly made up of homeschooled students, won their first game by forfeit because the Columbus (Ohio) Crusaders had to quarantine following a COVID-19 issue. The Lions didn’t know the game would be canceled until after arriving in Columbus.
The Lions defeated the Middletown (Ohio) Christian School Eagles 19-7 to win the South Division at Grand Park in Westfield. The Lions were supposed to play Calumet Christian from Griffith, but that team had to quarantine, so the Lions played Grand Valley (from Grand Rapids, Mich.) in the Nov. 7 championship game, winning 45-0 at Grand Park in Westfield.
“Our mission is to bring people to our Lord and Savior through football,” MacMillan said.
The true highlight of the season, MacMillan said, was when a coach and 13 players were baptized in a horse trough during an October practice on the football field.
“The championship was just icing on the cake,” he said.
MacMillan previously was head coach of the high school team for four years. His son, Logan, a Noblesville High School graduate, played for the Lions.
Chris Moore, a Noblesville resident, has been the head coach the past two seasons. Moore’s son, Jake, a junior, played linebacker for the Lions.
The team did manage to have one of its larger high school rosters despite the pandemic.
“Usually, we are in the mid-20s for players. To be at 32 players was a real success story for us, being it was a COVID year,” Moore said. “We had to cancel our junior high season because of COVID because of lack of participation. We’ll pick that back up as far as getting our junior high team going.”
Like many teams, MacMillan said the team didn’t have as much offseason practice as it has in the past.
“When we started the season, everything was a work in process,” he said. “Our first game we ended up playing four quarterbacks because we were trying to evaluate and get the best kids in the best position to be successful. We had one of the largest coaching staffs we’ve had in a long time. We all kept one common goal, (which) was to see this through, keep everyone safe, doing all the precautionary things we needed, but at the same time continue to work this problem one day at a time, evaluate the kids we have, coach them up, get them better, build from the bottom up and try to put them in the best position to be successful.”
MacMillan said most of the players come from northeast Indianapolis or Hamilton County. But there were players from as far away as Danville and Kokomo.
“We always have a lot of kids from Fishers because that’s near where our operations are,” MacMillan said. “We started in Noblesville and used to practice in Noblesville. Now, for a more centrally located area and easier access, we lease a practice field at Castleview Church in Indianapolis.”
For more, visit lionsfootballclub.com.