Denzel Harding survived a major scare three weeks ago when he hyper-extended his knee in a Siegel High win at La Vergne.
Harding, though, envisioned a much more serious injury.
However, the Siegel junior isn’t complaining. It merely allowed him to focus more on the postseason and the opportunity to help lead the Stars into the Class 6A playoffs.
“The knee is good,” Harding said. “It scared me at first. When it happened I thought it was my ACL. I sat there for a second. When I got to the sideline, I tried to go back in.
“But the main thing that helped me get over wondering if I was going to get back or not was just prayer. I prayed a lot about it.”
The Stars (10-0) play rival Oakland (6-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Ken Nolan Stadium in the first round of the TSSAA Class 6A playoffs. The game is the second meeting this season between the two teams.
Harding led District 7-AAA with 913 yards on 115 carries. He led Rutherford County in points scored in the regular season with 122 points scored (20 touchdowns, one two-point conversion).
“He’s vital to our team because he knows our offense inside and out,” Siegel coach Greg Wyant said. “He can line up anywhere and do anything we ask him to do. We feel pretty comfortable about where he is in our offense.
“Things run a little smoother with him, because he understands how our offense works.”
Harding also has 26 catches for 281 yards this season. That including four catches for 67 yards with a touchdown in a 35-0 win over Oakland in the regular season. He also ran for 148 yards on 15 carries with a rushing touchdown.
“He’s got good hands,” Wyant said. “We don’t mind throwing it to him and running routes with him.”
Against Oakland during the regular season, Harding benefited from Oakland’s defensive scheme, which included having its safeties play back to take away the Stars’ deep throws.
“If they play their safeties deep like they did last time, I’ll be able to sit down wherever I want to in the middle of the field,” Harding said.
Harding, a two-year starter, rushed for 1,465 yards as a sophomore and was the leading Rutherford County rusher returning this season.
He said he’s ready to pick up the run load in the postseason if needed.
“If my role expands in the playoffs, that would be fine with me and our offensive line,” Harding said. “They’ll get to get downfield and pancake some people and have fun.
“It’s just fun sometimes to run the football.”
Harding said the Stars realize that being undefeated in the regular season means nothing now that the postseason is under way.
“It’s an amazing thing to go 10-0 and all of that. But in the playoffs it’s a whole different ballgame. Everybody is after one thing — to get to the championship.”