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Player of the Pine Belt: Jefferson Davis Defensive Back Malcolm Hartzog

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:09 PM CDT
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BASSFIELD, Miss. (WDAM) - Anything but a state championship is a down year in Bassfield.

That’s the culture head coach Lance Mancuso has built with seven state titles in 13 years.

“Obviously our guys are extremely disappointed at the way the season ended last year,” Mancuso said. “Definitely wasn’t up to the expectations of this program. We probably had one of the best summers that we’ve had in quite some time.”

Many of those wins over the years came on the backs of some really talented athletes, particularly on the defensive end.

Bassfield has produced countless Division I football players, including three who are now in the National Football League - Cornell Armstrong, C.J. Moore and A.J. Moore.

But Mancuso believes one of the best defensive backs to come through Jefferson Davis County is entering his senior season this year.

“Malcolm Hartzog is probably as talented a defensive back as we’ve ever had here,” Mancuso said. “Hands down, and we’ve had some really good ones.”

“It means a lot to represent Jeff Davis,” said Hartzog, who will also play running back this season. “To see where they came from and it just motivates me to be where they’re at.”

Hartzog is well on his way, but wants to get through his last year of high school ball first.

He’s your prototypical Bassfield football player - not the biggest, but definitely the toughest. Physical on both sides of the ball.

“My mentality is just to go hard,” Hartzog said. “I’ve been here with the same coach for four years and he just kept teaching me all the way up and I just kept learning. And he made me better.”

“I watched him grow, we knew he was going to be special in the ninth grade,” Mancuso said. “Somebody that’s going to hold those defensive guys accountable and somebody that when the going gets tough, he’s going to be in the fight.”

Talk about a fight in Region 8-3A every season - the Jaguars don’t expect 2021 to be any different with the additions of St. Stanislaus, Perry Central and St. Patrick.

They also know their region has represented the South in the last four Class 3A state championships.

“For my final year I just want to win a championship and get closer with my teammates,” Hartzog said. “The freshmen coming in, just to lead them the same way.”

“It’s going to be a dogfight, there’s no doubt about it,” Mancuso said. “With some of that new blood in there, I think it’s going to bring some new excitement to our district.”

Jefferson Davis County opens its season on September 3 at Picayune.

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