Hardin Recaps Big Junior Season
After snagging seven interceptions, Webb City (MO) football fans had to wonder what cornerback Kiante Hardin could do to top his sophomore campaign. In his first year as a starter, the standout defender took home his first Class 4 State Championship ring, claiming All-District and All-Conference honors along the way. "From last year to this year, I think I contributed to the team a lot more offensively," Hardin said, just a day after his junior season ended with another State Championship. "Defensively, I think I stepped up as a leader and tried to help my teammates. Looking back at it, it's kind of unbelievable at this point. It doesn't seem like it's been a whole season." Hardin's impact was everywhere for the Cardinals in 2013. Offensively, he caught 24 passes for 458 yards and 10 touchdowns, an average of 19 yards per reception, and added a pair of scores on the ground. On defense, he intercepted 8 passes. All told, he scored 16 TDs on the year. "I started off more as just a defensive presence," Hardin said of his sophomore season. "I think they knew I could play offense, but I wasn't really ‘in' with the offense yet. This year, I really stepped in. Teams knew they couldn't just watch the run with me, I guess." In a year the Cardinals saw their 91-game regular season win streak snapped in Week Two, some wondered if the Webb City dynasty was slipping. Hardin took the questions about his squad personally. "Everybody that doubted us this year, that said this was a rebuilding year, it proves them wrong. I think it proves that if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish it." After the loss to Arkansas' Har-Ber High School, Webb City won 12 straight games, earning a berth in the State Championship Game against Helias and four-star tight end Hale Hentges. "I really just wanted to have a big offensive push this time," he said of the Cardinals' 28-14 win over the Crusaders. "I knew they had a good tight end my age that has a bunch of offers, and I wanted to shut him down. I wanted to make some plays defensively, and take advantage of the plays I got and be an offensive threat as well."
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