Football squad upended in state semifinal
During the 2010 Division IV state final, two of the Hartley High School football team's biggest plays took place when then-sophomore Ja'Wuan Woodley caught a 43-yard touchdown pass and classmate Jacob Matuska later had a 10-yard scoring catch.
That 34-13 victory over Chagrin Falls was among numerous memorable moments for the Hawks' 2013 senior class during what was perhaps the greatest three-year run in program history.
In addition to the state title it won in 2010 and its regional runner-up finish a year ago, Hartley was a state semifinalist this fall.
On Nov. 23 at Clayton Northmont, the Hawks' hopes of winning a third state title ended with a 45-21 loss to Clarksville Clinton-Massie.
Hartley finished 13-1 and a combined 37-4 over the past three years, winning CCL-Gold Division titles each season as well.
"It was a great team and I loved all of the seniors," junior defensive lineman Kalil Morris said.
Early on against Clinton-Massie, the Hawks seemed on the verge of advancing to another state final.
Hartley got touchdown runs of 45 yards from senior Marcellus Calhoun and 59 yards from junior Sam Mackowiak in the first quarter and led 14-0 but committed three turnovers that led to 17 points in the second.
Clinton-Massie, which entered the game tied for the state record for points in a season with 731, scored 24 points and limited Hartley to two plays from scrimmage in the second quarter.
The Hawks cut it to 24-21 on a 52-yard run by Woodley on a fake punt early in the third quarter but then committed two turnovers that led to Clinton-Massie touchdowns.
"It was a great four years and I couldn't have asked for anything better with these seniors," Woodley said. "Even though the season ended, we're going to be in each other's weddings and be there when each other's babies are born."
Hartley loses 18 seniors, led by Calhoun, Matuska and Woodley.
Woodley is a University of Toledo recruit who was the district's Offensive Player of the Year and the ThisWeek Super 25 captain. He rushed for 1,902 yards and 26 touchdowns and was a key defensive player at linebacker.
Matuska is a Notre Dame recruit who was first-team all-district and Super 25. He had 16 catches for 348 yards and four touchdowns at tight end and was a starting linebacker.
Calhoun rushed for 1,683 yards and 26 touchdowns and made first-team all-district and Super 25 honorable mention.
Dominique Scott, another senior who has been a key player since his sophomore year, made special mention all-district at defensive back and was the leading receiver with 19 catches for 439 yards and seven touchdowns.
Other key seniors included first-team all-district linebacker Nick King, first-team all-district offensive lineman Tyler Schaffer and defensive back Trevonn Brown.
Morris should return to lead the defense after earning first-team all-district honors. Also eligible to return on defense are sophomore Jack Zang (LB) and junior Alonzo Saxton (DB).
Mackowiak rushed for 769 yards and 10 touchdowns on 87 carries. Junior quarterback Jared Brandewie, who has started the last two seasons, completed 53 of 94 passes for 1,071 yards with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions this fall.
Brandewie, who also averaged nearly 35 yards per punt, made special mention all-district.
On the offensive line, junior Austin Kirkbride was special mention all-district and junior Nick Boeriu was honorable mention.
Saxton missed four games with injuries but had two interceptions and made special mention all-district. He also scored four touchdowns on offense and has scholarship offers from five Big Ten Conference schools.
Hartley beat Ready 42-8 on Oct. 26 to win its third consecutive league title and followed with playoff wins over Upper Sandusky (63-19 on Nov. 2), North Union (43-0 on Nov. 9) and Ottawa-Glandorf (41-31 on Nov. 16).
The Hawks were first in the final state poll.
"We don't have anything to hang our heads about," said Brad Burchfield, who is 50-11 in five seasons as coach. "These kids had an unbelievable year. They were a great team and certainly made their mark."
Girls basketball team returns veteran cast
The girls basketball team used a developing group of underclassmen and a solid inside game to earn the second seed for the Division II district tournament last season.
With more depth and nearly every key player back from that team, which went 17-6 overall, the Hawks are thinking big again this winter.
Senior Jaana Motton, a 5-foot-10 forward who made first-team all-district and all-CCL while averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds, is the top returnee.
Hartley opened Nov. 26 against Granville.
"It's a coaching situation I've never been in before where we have such flexibility in our lineup," said Mike Lanza, who is in his sixth season as coach. "Our starters may vary sometimes because this year we have an ability to go big or go small. The key for us is that we have to all learn that it's going to take all of us to get it done. I'm really emphasizing that this is a team that will go nine or 10 deep."
Motton is one of four seniors, along with 6-1 post player Jyla Hicks (4.0 points per game), LaQuana Hordge (guard) and 5-9 forward Anna Kirk (6.0 ppg). Motton was the District 10 Player of the Year, and Kirk and Hicks made honorable mention all-district.
Junior Alexis Britford (5-6) is the point guard and sophomore Marissa Brown (6-1) should be another key post player.
Also back are junior Taylor Kilgore (guard) and sophomore Ariel Packer (guard).
Junior Erin Chatman (guard) and sophomore Sydney Williams (guard) are looking to contribute.
Last season, Hartley was third in the CCL at 5-3, behind co-champions DeSales and Watterson (6-2) and ahead of Ready (3-5) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).
The Hawks opened the postseason with wins over Amanda-Clearcreek (52-44) and Whitehall (38-27) but lost to eighth-seeded Mifflin 47-44 in overtime in a district semifinal.
Hartley had won seven of eight before falling to the Punchers.
"I think we're going to be OK," Lanza said. "Last year we won our share and I think we have a chance to be pretty good. We're pretty athletic, but I would still say we need to learn how to control our turnovers, know when to play fast and not to play too fast. We have an athletic group of kids."