Former Hardaway standout Michael Woolridge changes football culture


Columbus — The Hardaway Hawks haven’t made the playoffs since 2010 and missed the cut last year with a 4-6 record. Three of those losses came by a touchdown or less. Under third-year head coach Michael Woolridge, that playoff drought may come to an end in 2018.

“When we make the playoffs this is where I want to be,” Woolridge said. “I envisioned it nowhere else.”

Coach Woolridge graduated from Hardaway in 2000 and received a full-ride scholarship to play college football at Eastern Kentucky.

“When you tell them you’ve got to go hard and you’ve got to get that extra rep, it gets in their brain ‘Hey Coach played college ball so he knows what it takes to get there.'”

The players agree there’s something different about this team compared to past years.

“Leadership. That’s a big thing that we have,” senior offensive lineman Michael Stephens said. “In the past three years ago, there wasn’t a lot of leadership and this year I’m hoping to bring in some leadership so the new guys can look up to someone and know how we should play.”

This team has 21 seniors who say they’re used to being written off as a team that won’t make the postseason.

“Everything that everybody across the city says about us, what we can and can’t do, we’ll just prove all the haters and doubters wrong,” senior linebacker Jaylen Mitchell said.

Another senior on the team is four-year starting quarterback Dominique Ford.

“There ain’t no I in team,” Ford said. “I feel like we’re good in the classroom this year and I feel like I have a chance to change the history.”

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