COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - There are three weeks left until a state champ is crowned in Georgia, and the Hardaway Hawks are in the discussion.
They're in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. Not only that, Hardaway missed the playoffs last season and are now one of only eight teams standing.
Watching the playoffs from home last year gave them the boost they needed this season.
"We know we were capable last year of making it," senior Chandler Griggs said. "Even though we didn't, we came closer together as a team. We're just playing as a family right now."
"I think there was a lot of motivation there," head coach Chris Gilstrap said. "Nobody wanted to be sitting there in May watching their friends and people across town playing and so it was in the back of our minds coming into the year that we missed something that we thought we should have been in and it's a little bit more motivation to work a little bit harder."
To get this far, the Hawks have been some road warriors. Hardaway's had a road series each round of the playoffs so far and came away with wins in crucial game three's. They're on the road again this week, and they wouldn't have it any other way.
"It gets you out of your comfort zone a little bit," Gilstrap said. "The kids for whatever reason like being on the bus. We don't. It's fun to them to miss school and do all that stuff."
"We like the long bus rides," Griggs said. "It lets us bond a little bit more and more each time. We've got one job and we've
made our one job clear and we're coming for a ring."
Hardaway faces Heritage-Catoosa up in Ringgold, Georgia. A double header is scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m.