It was only natural that Shane Horn would become a football player.
After all, the Madison senior’s father, Marty, was a standout quarterback on the gridiron at Millburn High School and later Lehigh University, where he passed for more than 9,200 yards and 62 touchdowns from 1982 through 1985. Marty Horn also had brief stints with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles after his days at Lehigh.
And Shane’s older brother, Martin, was a tight end and defensive end on the Madison team — a team that Marty Horn worked with as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach — that won the first of three straight NJSIAA North 2 Group II championships from 2010 through 2012. Martin Horn graduated from Susquehanna University, where he played tight end for four years.
So having that much football lineage gave Shane not much of a choice when the time came for him to attend high school.
“It was easy for me,” Shane Horn said. “It could have been harder for me, if I was just expected to play. But I fell in love with the game because of the influence of my father and brother. I learned to love the game at a very early age.”
Marty Horn never pushed or prodded his son along the way, even if he was a coach.
“He basically let me live my own life and create my own legacy,” Shane Horn said. “He always encouraged me. I never felt any pressure.”
But Horn did grow up in a household filled with memorabilia from Marty’s and Martin’s playing days.
“There were a lot of newspaper clippings and trophies and plaques,” Shane Horn said. “We had the whole shebang. There was a big picture of my father and brother together after Madison won the state championship in 2010.”
In the early days of Shane Horn’s football career, in junior football, he was a quarterback like his father.
“I even wore my father’s old No. 7,” Shane Horn said. “But I grew up trying to focus on myself.”
Through sixth grade, Shane Horn battled for playing time at quarterback with Nick Coviello, the current starting signal caller for the Dodgers.
The battle was over. Shane Horn was first converted to tight end, then eventually a center.
“It was different,” Shane Horn said. “It gave me a different perspective. It was a pretty big move on my part, but at the end of the day, it was the right decision. Of course, it was a little tough to take. Everyone wants to be the quarterback. It’s fun being the quarterback. But I figured whatever helped the team, I was for.”
Horn said that being a quarterback prepared him for becoming a center.
“I think being a quarterback before helped me understand,” Horn said. “I knew what a quarterback wanted to do, where he wanted the ball to be snapped. It definitely best suited me.”
Madison head coach Chris Kubik agreed.
“I think Shane learned how to act by watching his father and especially his brother,” Kubik said. “Martin showed Shane what it was like to work at a new position. Martin was a quarterback like his brother and he moved to tight end on the state championship team. Shane waited his turn like others we’ve had. He was a backup last year to Bobby Finelli at center and was able to break the lineup this year. He waited for his opportunity, and he was ready to go. He found a role on this team, stepped up and grabbed that role and was ready to go.”
Shane Horn knows that it is helpful having the team’s offensive coordinator in his living room every night.
“I ask him a lot of questions at home, and he’s there to answer them. It makes things a lot easier and a lot better,” Horn said. “We talk a lot about football in general. We’re big NFL fans, so we watch games together, and he’ll always ask me to point out techniques that are being used. We’ll watch a game and he’ll say, ‘Rewind that,’ and we’ll go over it again. It’s just fascinating. We do that with college games as well.”
Shane Horn believes he’s becoming much better at center as the days go on.
“I still have a long way to go,” he said. “I’m working on techniques that I’ve learned.”
For now, Horn has to focus on facing Rutherford in the NJSIAA North 2 Group II championship game Thursday at MetLife Stadium, with kickoff slated for 5 p.m.
Horn has a chance to join his father and brother as state championship winners.
“My brother won the ring,” Horn said. “He wears his ring around the house and pokes me with it sometimes. Someday, I wanted to get a ring like he has. This is a great opportunity for me. I think anyone who has had an older brother who won a state championship looks up to him. We all look up to our older brothers. Now we just have to finish it.”
There’s one picture missing in the Horn family den of distinction — the trophies, the plaques and the picture of Shane and dad with a state championship.
“It would be so huge for us,” Shane Horn said. “It would be such an honor. I see the ones of my dad and my brother together as state champions. I think it’s only fitting if I get one too.”