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Hardaway features balanced offense

The Hardaway High School Golden Hawks, the Bainbridge Bearcats’ Region 1AAAA opponent Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Kinnett Stadium in Columbus, boasts a strong rushing and passing attack.

The offense is led by senior Marcus Smith, one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the state who has been offered a football scholarship to the University of Florida. For the season, Smith has completed 87 of 153 passes for 236 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has run for four touchdowns as well.

The Golden Hawks’ leading rusher is sophomore running back James Triplett, who has 272 yards on 53 carries. He has also scored five touchdowns.

Junior linebacker Walter Jackson leads the Hardaway defense in tackles with 73, 42 solo and 31 assisted.

Senior linebacker Anthony Meredith and sophomore linebacker Ivan Cobb are second and third in team tackles with 42 and 40. Meredith has 26 solo tackles and 16 assisted tackles, and Cobb has 28 solo tackles and 12 assisted tackles.

The fourth and fifth leading tacklers for the Golden Eagles are senior safety Chauncey Guess, with 39, 24 solo and 15 assisted, and senior cornerback D’Andre Toney, with 37, 24 solo and 13 assisted.

When Smith drops back to pass, the receivers he usually looks for are junior running back Scott Austin and senior running back Gregg Shelbe, who are one, two on the team in receptions. Smith has 28 receptions for 399 yards and four touchdowns, and Shelbe has 25 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns.

Smith also has 12 punt returns for 105 yards and three kickoff returns for 91 yards.

The Golden Hawks will enter Friday night’s game with a 6-1 overall record and a 4-1 Region 1AAAA mark.

Smith threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Scott with just 19 seconds remaining in the game to pull out a 28-25 victory over the Jones County High School Greyhounds Friday night in Gray.

The only Golden Hawks setback was a 34-14 Region 1AAAA loss to the Harris County High School Tigers Sept. 25 in Hamilton.