When Justin Hardin took over the Providence High football program in April, he immediately went to work changing the feeling surrounding the football program.From the weight room to the practice field to Friday nights this fall, Hardin hopes to inject a new life into his team.“From the start, my goal has been to bring a whole new attitude and toughness to this team,” said Hardin, who took over for Randy Long. “This team has had some success, but they need to be more consistent. That effort all starts in the offseason, and we have worked very hard. Now, we are hoping to carry it over into the season.”His players have already felt his impact.“Coach Hardin has brought a whole new life, a whole new swagger to this team,” said Providence senior wide receiver/defensive back Austin Proehl. “He is an intense guy, and we are following his lead. We believe in ourselves more than even now.”Hardin has gotten a lot of advice from his father, Bruce, an N.C. hall of fame coach at Providence Day and twin brother, Blair, a first-year coach at Freedom who took Porter Ridge to back-to-back state championship appearances.Justin Hardin has a solid track record of his own. He was an assistant coach at Charlotte Latin and the head coach at Weddington from 2010-11, before serving as an assistant coach at Rock Hill South Pointe the last two years.“I have worked and learned under a lot of great men,” said Hardin, noting he still talks to Larry McNulty (Charlotte Latin) and Strait Herron (South Pointe). “I think I can use all of that to help build a winning program at Providence. There is a lot of potential here.”That effort begins with a Panther offense that was inconsistent last year, but has several key pieces back to build on.Senior Austin Proehl, who recently committed to play at North Carolina, will be the catalyst. He can line up at quarterback, running back, receiver, kick returner, punt returner or defensive back. While Proehl will see most of his time at wideout this year, Hardin expects him to make big plays.“As a play caller, it’s great to have a guy that has proven he can make things happen,” Hardin said. “But I think the best things about Austin are that he is a hard worker and a tough guy. That is kind of mentality we want all of our players to have.”Proehl will depend on improving junior quarterback Caleb York to get him the ball in the Panthers’ spread offense that will also feature senior tailback Giovanni Gonzales and junior running back Brian Mattar.The whole unit will benefit from what Hardin calls a “tight-knit” offensive line that will be much improved with 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle Bentley Spain (North Carolina) returning after missing most of last year with an injury.The Panther defense also looks to be improved, despite only getting three starters back.Jordan Bradley (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) will anchor the defensive line from the end spot after being named all-conference at linebacker last year.Hardin says he is also excited about three sophomore linebackers, Jordan Fehr, Jack King and Tyler Pistorio, whom he says all have a “bright future on Friday nights and eventually Saturday afternoons.”The front seven should be supported by an experienced secondary, where seniors Tyler Graham, Mo Kishk, Proehl and Malik Tatum should all play big roles.Providence has been an up and down team the last three seasons, but hopes to produce more consistent results in 2013. The Panthers will play in the new SoMeck 8 conference with familiar foes Ardrey Kell and South Mecklenburg, and less familiar teams Berry, Charlotte Catholic, Harding, Olympic and West Mecklenburg.Add a tough nonconference slate with teams like Hough, Porter Ridge and Myers Park and the Panthers know, “every Friday night will be a battle.”“Right now, our focus is on simple, daily goals,” Hardin said. “We aren’t talking about conference championships or state championships, yet. We are trying to lay the foundation.”Proehl sees things from a similar perspective.“I feel like this team has gotten a lot better already,” Proehl said. “But, the time for talking about it is over. We have to go out and show what we can do.”
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
New Providence High football coach brings ‘a whole new attitude’
Providence High (5-6, 4-3) Coach: Justin Hardin (1st year at Providence) Returning starters: 7 (4 offense, 3 defense) Key players: • WR Austin Proehl, 5-foot-10 175 pounds, Sr.: North Carolina commit expected to be a playmaker from multiple positions. • O L Bentley Spain, 6-foot-6 280 pounds, Sr.: After missing most of last season, the North Carolina commit is back to prove he can make a big difference up front. • DL Jordan Bradley, 6-foot-1 225 pounds, Sr.: Shifts from linebacker to defensive end, where he hopes to be a regular in opposing backfields. Can’t-miss games: Sept. 6 at Porter Ridge; Sept. 12 at Myers Park; Oct. 18 at Ardrey Kell; Nov. 8 at Charlotte Catholic.
2013 schedule • Aug. 23 vs. Hough • Aug.30 vs. East Mecklenburg • Sept. 6 at Porter Ridge • Sept. 12 at Myers Park • Sept. 27 at Olympic • Oct. 4 vs. West Mecklenburg • Oct. 11 at Berry • Oct. 18 at Ardrey Kell • Oct. 25 vs. Harding • Nov. 1 vs. South Mecklenburg • Nov. 8 at Charlotte Catholic
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer for Union News. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less