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By JOSH CLAYWELL firstname.lastname@example.org
RADCLIFF — After winning two state championships in three seasons, the North Hardin Christian Falcons could be in for a rebuilding year as they make the transition from the Kentucky Christian Athletic Association to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
North Hardin Christian has gone 37-5-3 the last three seasons, with KCAA State Tournament titles in 2007 and ‘05 under coach Josh Hardin.
Entering his fourth season as head coach, Hardin feels his team has a long way to go if it wants to win consecutive state titles.
“Obviously my goal practically is to have a winning season,” said Hardin, who is assisted by his 21-year-old brother Aaron Hardin. “And I’d love to return to State. But we are far away from that. We’re pretty young this season.”
Add to that the fact the Falcons may be without team leader Chris Blohm, a senior right-side striker who has suffered ACL injuries in each knee the last two summers.
“We’ve ordered a special brace for him and the doctors are allowing him to play,” Josh Hardin said. “He is the best soccer player we have.”
Blohm missed all of last year after tearing his ACL last July. He tore his second ACL this June in a pickup basketball game.
“We’re hoping he can play by the second game of the season,” Hardin said. “We should be able to look at him playing then. This means everything to him. He’s the first kid I’ve seen that loves soccer as much as he does. To a degree, he loves it too much.
“It was devastating to watch him last year,” Hardin added. “When he found out his ACL had been torn, he was really torn up about it. I’m just concerned about him getting hits wrong and further injuring it. I don’t want him to miss out on his senior year.”
Until Blohm returns, the Falcons will rely on senior stopper Haustin Kimbrough, a trio of juniors in sweeper Casey Sullivan, right midfielder Ronnie Thompson and center midfielder David Torissi and two sophomores in left-side fullback Alex Fowl and keeper Ben Naething.
“Obviously the leadership comes from Haustin and Chris on the sidelines,” Hardin said. “They know what I want and it’s great to see them do and say the things that I want. I’ve gotten to the point where before I say something, the captains say something. They’re teaching themselves, which is where I want to get them.
“It’s good in the sense that you always need someone that knows what to do when the first practice starts so you’re not constantly explaining everything to all the new people,” he added. “The only problem I have with their experience is they don’t utilize it enough.”
Hardin said the team has a tendency to rely on Kimbrough and Blohm too much, and said he wants more leadership out of his junior class.
“I really do. I’ve already seen it as we got in our first game and I’ve seen it develop,” Hardin said. “I heard two of them already vocalizing. And when it came to the next practice, there was no goofing off when it came to the juniors. They knew it was time to get down and get busy.”
The Falcons have had one scrimmage this season, a 6-0 loss to Blue Grass United, a club team from Lexington.
North Hardin Christian allowed four goals in the first 20 minutes of the match, and tightened up in the second half.
“I know not to play a select team from Lexington,” Hardin said with a laugh. “They were incredibly good. Physically they were more powerful than us, they were taller than us and they were bigger than us. My guys were intimidated from the onset. It was just nerves and stupid mistakes. They only scored two in the second half, and they really shouldn’t have scored those.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752