By becoming a more complete quarterback, DeAngelo Hardy has made McCallie a more dangerous football team in the state's toughest classification. After undergoing offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, the Blue Tornado senior has shown steady improvement as a passer and last Friday showed off his dual-threat ability in a come-from-behind 28-23 Division II-AAA road win over then top-ranked Brentwood Academy.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Kennesaw State commitment totaled 248 yards and three touchdowns — 24 carries for 134 yards, 10-of-15 passing for 114 — to earn the latest Times Free Press Player of the Week honor.
"He is throwing the ball better than he did last year," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said. "He made a couple of really nice throws the other night that got us going, and that is something that will prevent people from being able to just pack it in against us defensively to stop the run. They still might do that, but we have the ability to make them pay more now.
"D-Lo is one of the best kids I've coached. He's just a really positive person who relates to everyone in school and has a high standard for himself in everything that he does. He's also one of the greatest competitors you'll ever be around. He's an energy giver and what he adds to our team culture is immeasurable."
Hardy scored on a 12-yard run in the first quarter to put the Blue Tornado ahead, then added a 1-yard touchdown run in the second and a 19-yard TD pass to Thompson Byrd to take control early. After the Eagles fought back to take the lead with just over five minutes remaining, Hardy helped guide an 80-yard drive that took all but 46 seconds off the clock before Gavin Cagle's 15-yard scoring run won the game.
The win moved the Blue Tornado to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the region, and Monday afternoon they moved up to the state's No. 1 ranking.
For the season Hardy has thrown for 398 yards and rushed for another 216. Last season he ran for more than 1,200 and threw for 1,100, combining for 22 TDs to become a Mr. Football semifinalist and help lead McCallie to the state semifinals.
"I've been feeling more comfortable with my throwing this season," Hardy said. "It's just been a matter of making the right reads and getting the ball to our receivers so they can make plays. I was pretty confident going into the game because even though I knew we were playing a great team, I had been in that atmosphere before. We did what we should've done. That's the way we look at it. We expected to win going in. We just had to go out and execute the game plan.
"Our offensive line makes our job entirely easier. They're the best in the state, and we've got some dogs up front. Now we just have to keep approaching things with the same humble mindset. It's nice that people are recognizing us as a team, but being ranked number one is not our goal. Our goal is to win it all at the end of the season, and that's what I want to help us do."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.