Mussleman senior Blake Hartman had been among the state’s best high school football players for several seasons, but in 2020 the Applemen’s standout running back stood alone as the best.
In eight games, Hartman accounted 35 touchdowns — becoming West Virginia high school football’s all-time leading scorer and equaling the state’s touchdown record in the process. Hartman will certainly receive a lot of love when it comes to postseason awards and individual honors, and he can count among them being named the West Virginia Sports Now Class AAA Football Player of the Year.
“It has been one hell of year,” Hartman told WVSN. “This has been probably my favorite group of guys to be around. Just hanging out with them every day — being out there practicing with them is all you can really ask for. Winning games is great, breaking records is great, but just being out there is the best feeling.”
Hartman committed to Lehigh, a Patriot League school in the Football Championship Subdivision, prior to the start of his senior season then proceeded to hammer the opposition whenever Musselman was on the field, including against some of the state’s top teams.
Against Eastern Panhandle and Berkeley County rival Martinsburg — the four-time defending Class AAA state champion riding a four-year win streak at the time — Hartman went off for 259 yards and five touchdowns in a loss. Against eventual Class AA state champion Fairmont Senior, Hartman was the difference with three touchdowns and 256 rushing yards as the Applemen pulled away from the Polar Bears in the second half for a win at East-West Stadium. Hartman put on another show in a rare Putnam County appearance for Musselman with 256 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to go along with a passing touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown in a rout at Hurricane.
“He just has the ability to do just a little bit of everything,” Musselman coach Brian Thomas said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever coached a player that has been good at so many things. he can return kicks, he has thrown touchdowns for us.”
Musselman was held out of action for multiple weeks to end the regular season due to the state department of education’s COVID metrics map, but the Applemen got back on the field in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs as the No. 3 seed against visiting University, and it was against the Hawks that Hartman would make history.
Hartman tallied seven total touchdowns against University to break the West Virginia high school football all-time scoring record previously held by Josh Culbertson, the 2005 Kennedy Award winner from Nitro High and established the new mark at 748 points. The Applemen were officially eliminated from the postseason a few weeks later in a semifinal COVID map forfeit to eventual state champion South Charleston, so Hartman did not have a chance to break the tie with Culbertson for the state’s all-time touchdown record at 118.
“I’m really proud of Blake just because he came in here — he kind of took his own little path to get here,” Musselman coach Brian Thomas said. “He came in as a freshman and from day one — you don’t play that many freshmen on varsity but he was just one of the best guys we had. He ended up starting for us as a freshman and just to kind of watch him — I think there would be a lot of kids in that situation four years ago that their head would have gotten too big and they would have said, ‘Hey, I’ve already arrived.’ He really continued to work on his game and continued to get better. he really found a love for the weight room here over the last three or four years that has really transformed his body. Even outside of that, he’s grown as a leader.”
WVSN‘s interview with Hartman following Musselman’s win at Hurricane:
WVSN Class AA and Class A Football Player of the Year awards will be announced throughout the week.
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