12 Aug 2014 Harding Academy: Wildcats excited to pounce on 2014
Coach: Roddy Mote
’13 Record: 11-1 (7-0)
In 2013, Harding Academy continued to do what Harding Academy does. The Wildcats followed up their 2012 championship run with another 2-3A title in 2013, but it wasn’t always easy.
“The last game of the year was for the conference championship,” Coach Roddy Mote said. “We were able to come from behind [at Barton] and win our 41st conference game in a row. I think we haven’t lost a conference game since 2008.”
The Wildcats looked poised to defend their 3A championship until they ran into Charleston.
“It was a great year for us,” Mote said. “It didn’t exactly end like we expected it to, but we came up a little short against a very good football team in the quarterfinals.”
Harding Academy returns five starters on offense and four on defense.
Alex Francis took over the majority of snaps at quarterback in Week 5 and never looked back. He completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,327 yards and 25 touchdowns. Nate Dickson is versatile at running back and receiver, and also plays linebacker. The senior is a member of this year’s 501 Football Team.
“Nate is extremely physical and plays with a very fast motor,” Mote said. “He’s great at finishing the play. The example he sets challenges others to follow him.”
Returning receivers include Luke Fouts (102 yards and one touchdown), Garrett Barber (45 yards) and Ridge Diffine (98 yards). Fouts and Barbers are also defensive backs, and Diffine plays linebacker. Senior Mills Bryant is a big presence on both sides of the line, and junior Ty Mote is another lineman to watch in 2014.
“We enter the 2014 campaign with excitement about the possibilities on both sides of the ball,” Mote said. “The non-conference schedule is extremely tough and should tell a lot about us early. The AAA realignment brings Atkins and Marianna into the conference. We have several schools with coaching changes. It should be competitive from top to bottom.
“We have experience at quarterback and depth at the skill positions. We lack offensive line and defensive line depth. We have a limited number of players with significant game experience.”