By TONY EIERDAM
The big question heading into the 2013 season for the Mineral Wells Rams’ coaching staff is what to do with junior linebacker/running back Josh Hardee.
Hardee, who as a sophomore last year was a newcomer to the varsity, led the team in tackles from his inside linebacker position. Hardy also got to see some time at running back, where although not possessing sprinter speed he still showed flashes of brilliance with four touchdowns on 27 carries and a whopping 10.2 yards per carry average.
But Hardy also led the Rams on defense with 93 tackles, 67 of which were unassisted. The question coming into the season, which begins with the first practice of the year at 6 a.m. Monday at Ram Stadium, was whether to shore up the offense with Hardee at running back to take pressure off junior starting quarterback Caleb Acosta and the MWHS passing game.
That move would take away the team’s leading tackler and reduce him to a part time role on defense – for now.
It would be easy to make Hardee play both ways, but with the Rams showing depth at linebacker and not as much at running back, Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence has made a decision.
“We have to have Josh tote the mail,” Lawrence said. “He is our best ball carrier. If our offense is going to have the running threat that we need in order to throw the football – to be balanced – we have to have him back there running the football.
“Yes, he is probably our best defensive player. But, we feel like that we’ve got players who can step in at the linebacker position better than we have players who can step into the running back position.
“Again at that running back position, when you look at Gilbert Castorena the last three years and what he did for us, we think Josh can do the same thing.”