published Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Cardwell sparks Boyd-Buchanan Bucs in multiple ways

Copper Basin's Collin Thomas (24) chases Boyd Buchanan's Jim Cardwell (1)
Copper Basin's Collin Thomas (24) chases Boyd Buchanan's Jim Cardwell (1)
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jim Cardwell's dad says he likes his days organized and that he often is focused to a fault.

While the junior quarterback and safety acknowledges he'd like to play in college, his priorities are elsewhere.

"Right now I'm worrying about only one thing in football, and we know what that is," he said.

Cardwell and his Boyd-Buchanan teammates play a quarterfinal game Friday at Knoxville Grace Christian in Tennessee's Class 2A playoffs, and his play will go a long way in determining whether the Buccaneers advance.

"This is his third year in the offense. He knows it inside and out," said Carter Cardwell, Jim's father and the Bucs' offensive coordinator. "He makes subtle checks that most people don't notice that get us in and out of situations, and that makes it fun. He's a good trigger guy."

As the trigger man in a spread offense that is a lot more run than pass, Jim Cardwell also is part of Boyd-Buchanan's one-two offensive punch, teaming with running back Rance Harden.

Calling the plays in a hand-me-down brand of the offense Urban Myer used at Utah, Florida and elsewhere, Cardwell is the razzle to Harden's dazzle. He has close to 1,000 passing yards and more than 1,000 rushing, while Harden ran across the 1,000-yard threshold nine games into the season,

"Whenever they call my number, it's time to go," Jim said. "I love getting the ball as much as the next guy, but when they don't call my number I'm going to be giving the best fake or providing the best block I'm capable of."

He's also something of a coach's dream, maybe even choosing a strong weight-room workout over a date.

"Definitely pays off. Helps break tackles; allows you to run faster and hit harder," he said.

The bigger Harden, a blend of power and speed, meshes well with the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Cardwell's dash of smarts and pinch of quickness.

"He's mentally tough," Coach Cardwell said. "And he has a competitor's heart."

His son was quick to add that it isn't just the one-two that makes the Buccaneers offense.

"It takes 11, every single person working as one," he said.

He's a special player and not just because he's the starting quarterback, a starting safety or the Bucs' punt- and kickoff-return man. He has learned the Boyd-Buchanan quarterback mold fairly well.

"We have had a running style quarterback as long as I can remember," Bucs coach Grant Reynolds said. "There was Drew Akins, who ran the option well; Will Healy ran the option and threw really well; and Andrew Crowe was a safety we converted into a one-year quarterback who ended up running for almost a thousand and threw for 500-600 yards.

"Jim ranks right up there as an athletic kid."

The aforementioned quarterbacks also share traits that have helped Cardwell enter their rather elite group.

"I think the first thing you notice about him is that he hates to lose and he works really hard at his craft," Reynolds said. "He's a smart player with good football sense. He's a really good leader who will bring his teammates along with him."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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