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Sullivan County Democrat 2022 Fall Most Valuable Player

Tri-Valley's Austin Hartman earns honors

Richard A. Ross
Posted 12/13/22

GRAHAMSVILLE – Just how does a football player go from a season-ending injury one year to leading his team to a championship the next? For Tri-Valley senior quarterback Austin Hartman, …

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Sullivan County Democrat 2022 Fall Most Valuable Player

Tri-Valley's Austin Hartman earns honors


GRAHAMSVILLE – Just how does a football player go from a season-ending injury one year to leading his team to a championship the next? For Tri-Valley senior quarterback Austin Hartman, suffering a broken collarbone in the early portion of the 2021 season in a game against rival Sullivan West became the igniting motivation for his epic journey from “sling to bling.”

 Looking at Hartman’s small stature (5’5, 155lbs) gives little insight into the heart, toughness and unshakeable will that drove one of the most competitive players in the realm of Section IX’s Eight-Man football. Just one week after the surgery, Hartman was back in the gym, abetted by his older brother Drew who encouraged Austin to lift weights in what Drew called Austin’s “revenge tour.” Ever since Drew had played a key role in winning the title in his senior year (2018), Austin had dreamed of doing the same.  For the remainder of the 2021 football season, Hartman, decked out in his #2 Jersey, threw passes in practice and motivated his teammates from the sideline. 

Once out of the sling, Hartman intensified his workouts in the gym and took to the ski slopes. A fiercely competitive and aggressive skier, Hartman made it states with that same fervid intensity that he has brought to football and baseball. In the spring he returned to the baseball diamond where he played a key role as a jack-of-all-trades at shortstop, second base, third base, centerfield and pitcher. But throughout the winter and spring while giving his all to those sports, Hartman had his heart and mind focused on football. 

“I knew we had a great group of guys including Dylan Poley, Ian Mullen, Dan Winters and Collin Mentnech among others and that we were going to have a superb year.” 

Summer arrived and the serious weight training began in earnest. Starting with four of five guys in the weight room, the interest spread and soon it was eight or nine hefting the iron. Over the course of two-hour training sessions Hartman and company spent the first hour in the weight room and the second on the field, running, working on skills and playing seven on seven. They were abetted by graduated veterans David Allison and Ethan Mentnech. All of this was taking place under the watchful mentorship of coach Kevin Crudele. There was also a lot of film watching as the team prepared itself physically and mentally for the coming campaign. 

At the outset of the season, the Bears were not viewed as one of the prime contenders for the title, but that perception would soon change as wins began to mount. A season-opening 21-0 dominating victory over Dover and a two-point loss to defending champion Spackenkill raised eyebrows. While always totally locked in on preparing for the next game, Hartman and his teammates were fixated on winning the Section IX title. 

From the outset, Hartman notes, “We had been playing together for years, and we continued to enhance our team bonding.” 

Encouraged greatly by his dad Travis and brother Drew, along with the supportive love of his mother Diana, Austin has evolved into a complete, dynamic player. An elusive and gritty running back who week after week evinced escape artist wizardry, Hartman drew steady praise and widespread attention for breaking tackles and galloping for huge gains that included 30 rushing touchdowns. 

When Tri-Valley traveled to Sullivan West, both teams were unbeaten in league play. That game, which would decide the division title, resulted in a 26-6 Sullivan West win and would prove to be the turning point for Hartman and the Bears. Understanding that the loss came about due to the team’s relatively one-dimensional offense, it was time to mix in the passing phase as teams were not expecting it. 

Hartman’s passing to receivers Josh Carmody, Ian Mullen and Dan Winters proved effective in the Pine Plains quarterfinal victory. In the semifinal game, the team tightened up its pass defense which had shown some vulnerability the week before, and even though Pawling had seen the passing on film, it still proved an effective counterweight to the agile running of Hartman as well as the rushing prowess of Poley and Mullin. 

When Sullivan West fell to Spackenkill in the other semifinal, T-V’s win over Pawling set up a championship game against defending champion Spackenkill. When the final whistle blew, it was the Bears who had wrested the title by dint of a 43-20 victory. 

In the emotional aftermath Hartman was named the Offensive MVP of the game. He had rushed for three TD’s and completed eight passes for 91 yards. For all of that glory, Hartman attributes his success to the great blocking by his teammates and the role each and every Bear played in the run for glory. It was nothing short of a dream come true. 

In a season replete with so many honors including having been named the Times-Herald Record Player of the Week four times, the fiery Hartman was named Section Nine’s Eight Man Football Player of the Year. Max Preps voted Hartman Tri-Valley’s Player of the Year. 

Despite a loss to Groton in the regional game against Section IV’s champion, Hartman’s play, spirit, toughness and desire were without question the most salient piece in Tri-Valley’s emblematic 8-3 (4-1) season. 

Hartman hopes to play football in college and major in Business Administration. Given his perseverance, commitment and drive, one thing is certain: Austin Hartman’s rise to greatness on the gridiron is likely just to be a preamble to so much more in whatever endeavors he embarks on. 


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