KHQA Fall Awards Week: CHASE HARTWEG, 2017 Illinois Defensive MVP
2017 KHQA ILLINOIS DEFENSIVE MVP
CHASE HARTWEG, LB, West Hancock
RATIONALE: They held their opponents to just 176 total points in a dozen games this season; and stifling 14.6 points per game average that was the stingiest in all of Western Illinois High School Football.
A feat West Hancock accomplished on the strength of a defense that was a veritable All Star squad in its own right. Travis Cook had the luxury of employing impact players at every level of that unit; from an All Stater in the Secondary to a couple of monster Defensive Tackles up front. The star power at play here enough to cause sensory overload in trying to assess just who meant what to the scheme as a whole.
Did the Titans actually have a single most valuable piece in this ensemble cast?
Difficult to say. But you’d be hard pressed to say anyone did more to bind it all together this season than Chase Hartweg; the superstar Senior Linebacker who was so relentlessly effective at his job; that his production tended to get unfairly obscured along the way.
For the record, Chase was the Titans top tackler this season with 114 total stops. But that is just a number; not a storyline. It fails to reflect that Hartweg was also West Hancock’s most reliable tackler. That’s an important distinction for a group that played with a lot of passion (too much passion at times) and often fell prey to over-aggression and the mistakes that accompany it. Hartweg was oft-times the safety net that cleaned up those messes. And yet, he proved to be a playmaker in his own right, garnering a team high 10 tackles for loss as well as a pair of quarterback sacks, two fumbles and an interception. That’s a critical foundation piece for a team that won 11 straight games to start this season.
Chase’s value to the Titan Cause is augmented by what he meant on the other side of the ball as well.
He may have been the de facto number three option in the offense, by usage, but that fails to reflect just how much Hartweg shined in that complimentary role. He only got 71 carries compared to the 355 total totes that Riley Langford and Bryce Wilson commanded, yet Chase posted the highest per carry average on the squad at nearly nine yards per carry. He finished the year with 637 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He also led the team in receptions with six. So on just 77 total touches, Hartweg scored ten total touchdowns; meaning he hit the end zone every seven times he touched the ball; far and away the most efficient such player on his team.
In short, Chase’s quantifiable two-way value here was immense, and yet still so criminally overlooked.
So consider this award a balancing of the scales if you will; a chance to give a deserving young man and honor roll student a chance to stand for once a little bit alone and be properly appreciated for all that he worked to become and all that that work yielded in final accomplishment.
Runner-Up: Jackson Connell, QND
KHQA Web Vote: Chase Hartweg, West Hancock
2016: Deven Smith, Quincy High
2015: Tyler Strohecker, Winchester West Central
2014: Andrew Shake, Central
2013: Andrew Shake, Jared Starman, Michael Johnson, Central
2012: Brett Taylor, Macomb
2011: Austin Gooding, Brown County
2010: Jack Carlisle, Illini West
2009: Nathan Goudschaal, Brown County
2008: Zack Burling, Illini West
2007: Phillip Smith, Quincy Notre Dame
2006: T.J. Taylor, West Hancock
2005: Alex Ebbing, Brown County
2004: Les Hammers, Jacksonville
2003: Terry Comiskey, Beardstown
2002: A.J. Huston, West Prairie/LaHarpe
2001: Blake Bainter, Macomb
2000: Chris Rogers, Carthage
1999: Willie Thompson, Carthage
1998: Luke Wessel, Carthage
1997: Ryan Cramer, West Prairie/LaHarpe