COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It's been an uphill battle for the Hardaway Hawks in recent years. Not only are they in GHSA Class AAAA, the Hawks are in Region 1, stuck with the likes of Thomas County Central and Northside-Warner Robins.
Just the same, the Hawks find themselves upbeat after one of their best season in years. That's because they ended an 11-year playoff drought and earned a spot in the second season, long awaited and long overdue. We're talking a shot in the arm to the hawks football program.
"It built a lot of confidence," said head coach Jeff Battles. "We've got a lot of young guys on the team, and it showed them how to win and the things they have to do to do win. Our confidence level with those guys is a lot higher right now. They're young. They want to be here. They want to do the hard work. They want to put the time in it takes to win ballgames."
That playoff berth came with a sophomore at the controls. Now, quarterback Joseph Gibson is a junior with a year of playing time under his belt. Gibson says he feels more relaxed, and more in control.
"I'm pretty comfortable," Gibson explained. "Early in the season last year, it was kind of rough for us. We had Valdosta, Carver, but during the end of the season I think I calmed down quite a bit."
Battles agreed. "He's grown into the offense more. He understands it. He's controlling the whole offensive unit more, and so it definitely helps us that he's back."