This is the ninth in a series examining high school football teams in the Bi-City area during spring practice.
Hardaway will hold its spring practices from May 13-23 with an team scrimmage scheduled for 5 p.m. on May 23.
Team name: Hardaway Hawks
2012 record: 3-7, 1-4 Region 1-AAAAA
How finished in region: Fifth
Playoff result: Did not make playoffs
Key losses: WR Tyrie Thomas, LB Caleb Thompson, WR Tetris Sweat, DB Travis Jones, DB Ronald Rosser
Key returnees: RB Justin Crawford, OL Desmond Barmore, LB David Hall, LB Treavon Davis, DB Christian Matthew, QB Blake Berry, WR Lawrence Gibbs
My take: It’s rare that you come across a group of players or coaches who are excited to get back on the field following a three-win season.
Sure, you get the same lines from the coaches — the lines saying that the players are hungry and ready to prove what they can do.
In the case of Hardaway, though, it really and truly sounds like there is a buzz surrounding the football program, at least within the confines of the locker room.
Coach Jeff Battles talked of an increased commitment in the weight room, the best offseason workouts in his five years with the program. He singled out strength coach David Mackie, saying he had been “awesome” with a new program over the winter.
“He came in with a new program and changed things completely, and it’s paid off,” Battles said.
Couple that with the excitement of having star running back Crawford for a full season, and there are a lot of expectations of what this team may be able to accomplish.
Crawford played in only five games last season after transferring in to Hardaway. In those five games, he carried 96 times for 825 yards and seven touchdowns. His presence will not only mean the Hawks will have an incredible playmaker to rely on, but it also opens other players up to some quality touches.
Add in a couple experienced linebackers and Barmore on the offensive line, and it makes for a lot of anticipation at Hardaway. Sure, there are holes. Every team has them, but Hardaway is more confident in its ability to plug them going into this spring than it has been in the past.
“We’ve been pumped up for the last couple weeks getting ready for next week, and we can’t be more excited,” Battles said. “You’ve got guys who want to be here, and it rubs off on everyone.”
The key in spring will be maintaining that excitement, carrying over the good work from the weight room to the field.
“We’re hoping all of that makes its way into the spring and fall,” Battles said. “We’ll see a little now when we get in pads.”
If the work the team has put in continues through the spring and summer into the fall, Hardaway very well may be a team to keep an eye on.
Follow along every day for a look at football teams around the Bi-City area. Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
April 29: Brookstone
April 30: Calvary Christian
May 1: Carver
May 2: Central
May 3: Chattahoochee County
May 4: Columbus
May 5: Harris County
May 6: Glenwood