Siegel running back Denzel Harding had the best season running the football of any player in District 7-AAA last season.
He led the district in rushing yards with 1,288 yards while helping the Stars to a 13 consecutive wins before the team finally stumbled in the state semifinals against eventual state runner-up Maryville.
Harding also had 569 yards receiving and finished with 29 total touchdowns.
So, what does the senior have planned for an encore in his final year in a Siegel uniform? Pretty much exactly the same thing as 2012, minus the semifinal loss of course.
“Our theme so far has been to get our offense back to where we were last year,” Harding said. “People say we lost a lot (seven starters on both sides of the ball), to me we didn’t really lose a lot (though).
“We knew last year we were going to be without those guys this season, so we were preparing for that last year I think the guys this year have really responded.”
Whether or not the Stars will be able to duplicate the team’s success of 2012 is yet to be determined, but Harding said not duplicating it isn’t an option.
“We’re building a program,” he said. “You can’t build a program by taking years off. Myself and this senior class knows that. We still have very high expectations.”
The team will likely go as far in 2013 as Harding and the rest of his fellow skill players can take them.
“We’re faster, way faster,” he said of this year’s team. “Our biggest strength in our skill guys but our line has gotten a lot better since spring too.”
The 5-foot-9 two-way players weighs 175 pounds and will likely start at cornerback for the Stars too.
“I love them both (offense and defense), but I’d rather play defense,” he said.
He’ll also return kicks for coach Greg Wyant too.
“Denzel is leading that group of skill guys right now,” Wyant said. “He’s played a lot other the years and knows what playing in this district is all about.”
Added Harding about District 7-AAA: “It’s like playing in the SEC every week.”
Harding, who has intentions of playing college football, has drawn interest from several colleges including Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Memphis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Ohio State and Duke.
“Vandy is probably at the top of my list right now,” he said.
Because of his height, most of that interest has been on the defensive side of the ball.