SAVANNAH – The preseason for Hardin County High football is one of uncertainty.
After having a quality offensive line last year paving the way for quick skill guys to have a productive season individually and team-wise, the Tigers lost a lot of blocking ability up front, so there are a lot of questions hinging on that front line.
That would be a drastic cause for concern had the coaching staff at Hardin County not been through all this last year.
“We came in with a lot of inexperience last year and honestly weren’t 100 percent sure how the kids in new spots would react, which you’re never totally sure when you deal with high school kids,” said Tigers head coach Matt Smith. “But that group we had last year grew up quickly, and we had a good season.”
The Tigers endured a couple of close losses early in last season to win the program’s first outright district or region championship in 20 years with a 3-0 record in District 13-AAA play.
They did that behind the dual-threat abilities of quarterback Cal Gobbell, the 2014 All-West Tennessee Junior of the Year and a Tennessee commit to play baseball after he graduates from Hardin County next May. He was one of two area quarterbacks to surpass 1,000 yards each in passing and rushing.
Gobbell’s favorite target in the passing game was Nick Godwin, who caught for nearly 800 receiving yards. He’s back as well.
“Having that kind of speed and experience back is a good thing for us,” Smith said. “But we also know we’re in a tough region with good coaches, and I know they will be ready to try to stop us.
“We’ve got to be as good as we can be as quickly as we can be to not have a slow start like we had last year.”
In the TSSAA’s realignment, Hardin County dropped to Class 4A and is in a competitive region – 7-4A – that includes three reigning district champions and a couple of runners-up. Along with Hardin County, Chester County and Crockett County are in the region along with North Side and Lexington, who finished second in their respective districts.
“It’s a tough, tough district, but we hope to compete,” Smith said. “That’s what we hope to do anyway and see what happens.
“It should be fun for fans to watch throughout the year because we’ll have big games in this region every week.”
Brandon Shields, 425-9751