JDC’s Hartzog named WDAM-TV′s ‘Player of the Year’
BASSFIELD, Miss. (WDAM) - Since Lance Mancuso’s been overseeing the football scene in Jefferson Davis County, several players have leaped to the college ranks and even the National Football League.
But Mancuso maintains Malcolm Hartzog is the best he’s ever coached.
Hartzog proved his coach right pretty much every Friday night as the most electrifying player on a number of fields around the Pine Belt.
“The guys that came before him, before us, they set the stone,” said University of Southern Mississippi defensive back Malik Shorts, a Jefferson Davis County High School grad.
“They played so hard to earn the Bassfield name. They played so hard to where we had to step up to their level.”
That’s the type of culture that’s been built in Bassfield and for the past five years, at Jefferson Davis County High School.
The torch was passed to Shorts, who eventually passed it to Hartzog.
“When I was in eighth grade, I was looking up to Malik Shorts,” Hartzog said. “I liked how he played, his mentality, and how he’s doing in college now. He just motivates me to go hard.”
Hartzog is just the latest in a long line of talented athletes to come through Jefferson Davis County – three who still play in the NFL.
And like his predecessors, Hartzog knew talent would only take him so far.
“A lot of times you get a lot of those talented kids coming in pretty young and it all goes to their head,” Mancuso said. “Malcolm has really set the example that if you want to bring your game to the next level, that you have to continue to prepare.”
When the regular season was said and done, Hartzog rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. Opponents rarely kicked to him, but when they did he took it to the house six times.
Hartzog capped off a stellar senior season by leading the Jaguars to their third state championship since 2017 and earning a Most Valuable Player trophy in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game.
It was near impossible to miss Hartzog on Friday nights, yet some major colleges still managed to.
So, on Hartzog goes to the University of Nebraska, where he’ll play defensive back and special teams.
“I feel like it’s a good place because I talked to the coaches – it felt like they really wanted me there and I just wanted to get out of state,” Hartzog said. “I feel like it’s a good fit because I can lock down any receiver, and just play the ball through the air. And I feel like it was meant for me to play in college.”
Hartzog feels like his best route to the NFL is through Lincoln, Neb.
But before it becomes a business, he’s holding onto those fond memories of the game he grew up loving in Jeff Davis County.
“I’m going to miss my coaches,” Hartzog said. “I’m going to miss the fans and teammates because they made me who I am today. I ain’t going to be able to get nothing back like it. All you gotta do is just believe you can do it, put in the work, the time. Just have dedication and you’ll do it.”
Copyright 2021 WDAM. All rights reserved.