Ashley Harden facing another rebuilding job at Northeast
Ashley Harden certainly knows what it takes to get struggling programs back on track.
So taking over a Northeast program that finished 2-8 in 2016 in head coach Bruce Mullen’s final season may not be as daunting as it sounds.
After all, at Harden’s previous three stops, the programs went 0-9 (Butler), 1-9 (Jenkins) and 1-9 (Twiggs County) the season before he took over. Harden’s Northeast team opens its season Aug. 25 at Lamar County.
“It does,” Harden said when asked if it helps that he has gone through this process before. “Like I said before, kids are the same everywhere. The expectations are different, and so we try to bring those high expectations and let those kids come up to those expectations.
“It’s coming together slowly but surely. The guys are working hard. We’re just trying to get everything implemented. Hopefully by the second or third game, we should have everything together.”
Harden went 15-16 in three seasons at Butler, 7-13 in two seasons at Jenkins and 12-11 in two seasons at Twiggs County. His teams have four winning seasons and have gone to the playoffs three times, including both seasons at Twiggs County.
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Daniel ShirleyThe Telegraph
“We’re just trying to make sure they have that same desire when it gets hard. Early on when it’s fresh and everything, everybody’s upbeat, and everybody’s into it,” Harden said. “But when things don’t go your way or when we have one or two bad plays in a row, how do you respond to that? Do you stay up, or do you hang your head? So that is a thing we’re trying to work on now.”
Harden pointed to seniors Alton Dennis, Russell Hill, Mansur Hill and Khalil Smith and junior Mario Starling as players who have stepped up to lead the way.
“It’s not necessarily just the coaches. It’s a whole new vibe around the school,” Starling said. “You can tell by the mentality that we hold ourselves to. So like people working in the weight room, he stays on us and keeps a tight ship. And we run a tight ship. That’s how things are going right now.
“I truly believe in it, but that’s the first thing, you’ve got to believe in the process.”
Northeast Raiders 2017
Head coach: Ashley Harden.
2016 record: 2-8.
Returning starters (offense/defense): 6/5.
Players to watch: Alton Dennis (Sr., DL); Nolan Ussery (Jr., QB); Vincent McCarthy (Sr., ATH).
Aug. 25 at Lamar County
Sept. 1 vs. Rutland
Sept. 8 Twiggs County
Sept. 15 vs. Central
Sept. 22 at Bleckley County
Sept. 29 Dodge County
Oct. 6 vs. Southwest
Oct. 20 Dublin
Oct. 27 at Washington County
Nov. 3 East Laurens