INDIAN TRAIL If you ask me, the areas next great high school football coach might be 30-year-old Blair Hardin of Porter Ridge.
In the three seasons before he took the job, Porter Ridge won five games. Hardin was 3-8 his first season and has gone 39-8 since. His teams have won 23 straight games and made two straight N.C. 4A Western Regional appearances. And right now, Porter Ridge (5-0) is looking very much like a serious contender to win Hardin his first state title.
But its more than that.
Hardin has the ability to relate to his players, to bring the best out of them. He has that thing, that factor that all the great coaches have.
He has that presence.
He was a great high school football player who won a state title at A.L. Brown, playing for his father, Bruce Hardin, one of the best coaches in N.C. history.
Now, Blair appears, at least to me, to be on the same track.
Dad doesnt disagree.
Hes way ahead of me at the same time in my career, Bruce Hardin said. Hes done a great job here at Porter Ridge. His kids play hard for him and hes got a great staff. Me? Im still trying to learn the game.
Bruce Hardin, inducted into multiple Hall of Fames and with multiple state title rings, watched his Providence Day team lose to his sons Pirates 17-7 Friday. Last season, Porter Ridge won 10-7. The schools wont play next season because the Pirates schedule is full.
Blair Hardin said he enjoyed coaching against his father because Bruce Hardins teams are always well-prepared, well-coached and Blair said its always good to be around family.
Hes my best friend, Blair said of his father. I love him to death. I try to do right, to do what I learned from him, and Ive been fortunate to be around good people like him here at Porter Ridge.
When Porter Ridge hired Hardin, it shocked him. He was just interviewing to get some experience for a possible head coaching job down the road. He really wanted to coach wide receivers and work with his father.
I figured maybe one day, when I was older, I could take the leap, Hardin said, but I had the itch to do an interview or two and was fortunate this administration here gave me a chance. Hopefully Ill be fortunate to do this as long as my dad did.
Porter Ridge would be fortunate to keep him.
Porter Ridge ejections reversed
Porter Ridge athletics director Bill Rogers had a rough few hours after Fridays 17-7 win over Providence Day.
Three Pirates starters were ejected from the game, during what appeared to be a fight on the field. Those players ran onto the field, along with several other Pirates players. State association rules call for any team that has three or more players ejected for the same fighting incident to give up their playoff privileges.
On Saturday, the Union County supervisor of officials contacted Rogers and said the ejection call had been overturned. Rogers said he was told the officials met after the game to make sure their ejection call was correct.
They determined there was no fighting. Rogers said the three players ejected are on Porter Ridges defensive team for extra points. Providence Day had just scored a touchdown, meaning those players would be coming on for the extra-point try.
The officials report has been sent to the N.C. High School Athletic Association, which will make a final ruling, but it appears that the three players are clear to play in next weeks rivalry game against Marvin Ridge and that Porter Ridge is clear to play in the postseason if it qualifies.
• Another Porter Ridge player was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier in the game. His ejection stands and the two-way player will sit out next weeks game, per state rules.