Profiles: Transfer Horton already showing his big play potential

Malachi+Horton+looks+for+running+room+against+Sevier+County.+The+senior+gained+219+yards+and+scored+twice+--+all+in+the+first+half.

Ed Dudrick

Malachi Horton looks for running room against Sevier County. The senior gained 219 yards and scored twice -- all in the first half.

Hype and a certain amount of skepticism always surround football transfers on any level, especially when it comes to skill positions like running back.

The question all fans keep asking: Will he be able to score and make plays?

If he is Bearden senior tailback Malachi Horton, then yes. Yes, he can.

Horton, who transferred from Morristown West last semester, proved that he could be a potent back for the Bulldogs by rushing for 219 yards and scoring two touchdowns in Bearden’s season opening 62-27 loss to Sevier County (1-0) on Friday night.

“We [Morristown West] played them [Sevier County] last year, so I knew what they were going to bring,” Horton said. “I knew I was going to do pretty well, but coming into that game I wanted to do better than I did last year and put the team on my back and help them.”

Added running backs coach Morgan Shinlever: “Individually, he ended up doing very well. … He’s got an explosive step, so we were definitely glad to pick him up this [past] offseason.”

Horton will want another big game in the home opener against defending 4A state champion Fulton on Friday night at 7:30 (TV: tssaanetwork.com/bearden).

Horton may still be quite new to Bearden football, but he is already accomplished at the high school level. As a junior at Morristown West, Horton was first team All-District 2-AAA and rushed for a school record of 1,842 yards and scored 20 touchdowns in 2012.

Transitioning to a whole new team and whole new school can prove to be a difficult feat for many student athletes, but Horton has made himself right at home as a Bulldog.

‘’It’s been pretty good so far,” Horton said. “All the coaches, they love me and they’ve taken care of me since the summer.

“It’s just easier to do things here, and I get along with everyone pretty well. I like the football program; that’s primarily why I moved here.”

Not only can the transition be difficult on the player, but it can also be a challenge to the team as well. However, Horton has seemed to be a perfect fit for Bearden football.

“Our offense is set up to where one player doesn’t really dominate everything we do,” Coach Shinlever said. “But when you have a good running back especially at that position that Malachi is at, it allows the other positions on the offense to really be accentuated and really be able to shine and come through because the defense starts focusing so much on our run game and with him being in the back field, he becomes a major focal point.”

It is extremely important for a quarterback to have good chemistry with his fellow teammates but especially so with his running backs. Horton and senior quarterback Xavier Johnson, who recently transferred from Central High school, have been able to develop a deep chemistry as the two new transfers to Bearden.

“We both transferred at about the same time, so we kind of have something to relate to with each other,” Johnson said.

Bearden will need every bit of their team’s chemistry to connect on Friday, when they face Fulton (1-0).

“They’re very explosive, extremely athletic, and they’re very big,” Coach Shinlever said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us.

“They’re going to be fun to watch and play against; that’s for sure.”

Horton appeared winded in the Sevier County game, even missing the entire second half, but he accredited it to dehydration and is expected to play Friday.

“He got a little wore down,” Coach Shinlever said. “But we wanted to be safe and make sure we got him checked out by the medical staff.”

Bearden will look to force Fulton into an aerial attack to stifle their strong run game.

“We’re going to see if they can beat us by throwing the football,” Coach Shinlever said. “We think that if we do that, then we’ll have a really good chance.”