The Hardaway Hawks were determined to improve on a very disappointing season a year ago.
The Hawks, led by a pair of super sophomores, did exactly that with a 49-23 victory over Jordan at Kinnett Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
Hardaway suffered through a 1-9 season while Jordan is mired in a now-15-game losing streak.
Quarterback Blake Berry took the helm this season after seasoned quarterback Joseph Gibson transferred. In his varsity debut, Berry threw three touchdown passes.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Berry said. "I wanted to prove myself and so did our team. We wanted to prove we could win more than one game. We want to win the region and make the playoffs."
Berry put up the first points of the new season with a two-yard pass to Ronald Rosser at the 9:39 mark of the first period. It was only the beginning for Berry and the Hawks. Berry had two scoring passes in the first half, helping the Hawks build a 36-7 lead at intermission. He added one more midway through the third quarter.
In a game of big offensive plays, diminutive sophomore Shakur Warner produced one of the biggest. With Hardaway leading 22-7 after the first, Warner electrified the crowd with a 52-yard run early in the third. On second down from the Hardaway 48, Warner took the handoff from Berry and appeared to be stopped in the backfield. He shook the defender off and scampered all the way to the end zone.
"I didn't think he could stop me," Warner said. "I cut back to the inside. I give all the credit to my linemen. They opened up a big hole."
Warner, too, cited the goals set by the Hawks for the season.
"We had to really focus this year," he said. "We need to work as a team."
Hardaway senior running back Tyrie Thomas turned in the longest scoring play of the night and the game's pivotal play.
Friday at Kinnett StadiumHardaway 22 14 13 0--49
Jordan 7 0 0 16--23First quarter
H--Ronald Rosser 2 pass from Blake Berry (Shakur Warner run) 9:39.
J--William Harris 1 run (Franklin Yarwaye kick) 5:34
H--Tyrie Thomas 88 kickoff return (Rosser pass from Berry) 5:17.
H--Warner 2 run (pass failed) 2:05
H--Warner 52 run (Berry kick) 10:36
H--Rosser 22 pass from Berry (Berry kick) :00
H--Malik Fowler 12 pass from Berry (kick failed) 6:40
H--Darius Blackmon 3 run (Berry kick) :00
J--Harris 22 run (Julius Yarwaye run) 9:13
J--Majee Raines fumble recovery (Harris run) 3:37
Records: Hardaway 1-0, Jordan 0-1. Next: Hardaway vs. Columbus (at Kinnett), 7:30 p.m. Friday; Jordan vs. Northside (at Memorial), 7 p.m. Thursday.