CALDWELL — Growing up in the Hardin household was always a competition.
Be it in football, basketball or track and field, there was always a battle brewing between Taeson Hardin and his younger brother, Dorian Hardin.
The brothers have kept their friendly rivalry going, even as members of the College of Idaho football team. It has pushed them both into a starting role next to each other in the Yotes’ defensive backfield.
Taeson, a sophomore, has been starting at safety all season. Dorian, a freshman, joined the starting lineup at cornerback in last week’s 16-14 win against Montana Tech. Together they have helped lead the Yotes to a 6-0 record entering Saturday’s game at Southern Oregon.
“It’s a great opportunity, not many people get this opportunity to play with their brother,” said Taeson. “Especially to start with their brother, I just don’t take it for granted. We don’t have many days left, I have two more years after this, he’s still got three more years. So honestly, just take advantage of the opportunity and don’t let it go to our head.”
Taeson has started all six games for the Yotes this season and is third on the team with 31 tackles. He also had an interception in the season opener against Eastern Oregon. Dorian has played in all six games as a true freshman and has 17 tackles, including a sack for eight yards in Saturday’s win against Montana Tech.
“Since Taeson plays the boundary safety and Dorian plays the boundary corner, they’re having to work together all the time,” said College of Idaho coach Mike Moroski. “I think they do probably talk a lot off the field and it’s fun to watch them on Saturday. They’re playing very, very well together.”
They had never played together until Dorian was brought up to the varsity football team at Oak Harbor (Wash.) High as a sophomore. Taeson was a junior. But their whole life they competed against one another, with each brother trying to always one-up the other.
“It’s always been that way, growing up as kids,” said Taeson. “Whether it was basketball, football, track, always competing, that’s what made childhood great for us.”
The competition, Dorian said, helped him become a better athlete.
“It’s kind of like that guy who just helps you better yourself everyday,” Dorian said. “You want to be the best when it comes to sibling rivalries, pushing yourself, trying to be better than him every day. So it’s been great, it’s been a motivator for me.”
Growing up, football wasn’t even their main sport. They focused on basketball at a younger age, but Taeson said as he got to high school the physical aspect of football drew him into the sport. He decided to focus on playing college football and possibly parlay that into a pro career.
He first got introduced to the College of Idaho through social media, and the more he looked into the program the more interested he became. After contacting coaches and going on a visit, he fell in love with the campus and the community.
Dorian stuck with basketball for a while, but he soon realized he had better prospects in football. He watched as his older brother appeared in six games for the Yotes as a freshman, making 19 tackles.
He decided to follow Taeson to Caldwell.
“Not many people get the opportunity to play with their brother, especially at the college level,” said Dorian. “At the high school level, it’s easy, you both went to the same school. But out of the many options you have to go to college, it’s not often that you get that chance.”
Dorian quickly proved himself as a capable coverage cornerback, and midway through the year, Moroski opted to give him a chance in the starting lineup, next to his brother.
“They’re very athletic and they’re always in the playbook, so they always know what’s going on,” said junior safety Josh Elsberry. “They’re always studying up the opponents, so they know exactly what to do and how to go out and execute.”
For both brothers, the opportunity to play on the same team was a dream come true. Getting to start in the same defensive backfield was an extra bonus, but not an unexpected one.
“We’ve worked out together, so I always knew what he was capable of doing,” said Taeson. “I knew when he’d get a chance to start or even just get a lot of playing time. So I’m excited for that, excited for him and we still got four more games, we’re going to keep it going.”