Valdosta State football: Former Hardaway standout Austin Scott hopes to lead his team to an NCAA Division II national title

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 14, 2012 

Austin Scott is just two years removed from guiding Hardaway High to the state football playoffs.

Now a member of the Valdosta State football team, he has helped lead the Blazers to the Division II national title game, which will be played against Winston-Salem State at 1 p.m. today.

In his first year of on-field action, the 5-foot-6 running back is second on the team in rushing with 992 yards and nine touchdowns. Cedric O'Neal, who completes the team's dynamic running back tandem, has 1,058 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Scott said that he's excited for the opportunity to give his team its first national title since 2007.

"To get to the championship after the season we had last year, where we didn't make the playoffs, it's just great," Scott said.

While the opportunity at a national title might be new to Scott, the individual accomplishments and ability to battle against the odds isn't.

Hardaway coach Jeff Battles praised his former player's athletic ability, but also his willingness to put in the work to succeed.

"He was fantastic for us," Battles said. "He helped us get to the playoffs in 2010. He was our main offensive weapon that year. He's just a good kid. He was a three-sport athlete and just an extraordinary young man."

Asked what stood out about Scott athletically, Battles was concise in his response.

"He's dynamic," he said simply. "He could make a play out of nothing. He's just one of those kids that loves it. It's fun. That's what he's doing out there -- he's having fun right now. That's the best part for him."

Scott said a lot of those characteristics came from his time in high school.

"I learned how to work hard at Hardaway," he said. "When you face adversity, like we did sometimes, you learn how to come back and play stronger. This year, we lost to West Alabama to drop our record to 2-2. We pretty much had to win the rest of our games to even make it to the playoffs. We knew how to face the adversity, keep our heads up and keep playing."

The experience has been more than just football, Scott said. Both teams in the finals had the opportunity to visit elementary schools to read and speak with students on Friday.

Scott said the experience was one he'd remember.

"They were excited to see us," he said. "They were all smiling. They sang songs to us. I feel like we really brought their day up. It's amazing."

Even more amazing would be to finish off the season with a win in the title game. That's what Scott said he's expecting to do.

"We expect to win," he said. "I want to get us a win."

Behind an experienced offensive line, which he praised for its ability to open up holes for the team's potent running game, Scott can pass 1,000 yards on the season as well. That would be a special individual accomplishment for a freshman, he said.

And if he's able to continue that success, the team should at least have a fighting chance.

"If we can all do our jobs, we'll have a chance," he said.

No matter what happens, though, he's got his former teammates and coaches behind him back home.

"He just makes me proud of him that he can go off and do the things to accomplish his goals," Battles said. "He's worked hard to get there and worked just as hard down there. This is just a wonderful accomplishment for him."

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service