Collin Hunter’s senior football season at Glen Rose ended the way no one’s senior football season should end. But football always does conclude for some unfortunate teams much the way the season closed for Hunter and his Beaver teammates.
Playing in the Class 3A State Championship game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, the Beavers were leading Harding Academy 45-42 with one minute remaining in the game. Seconds earlier, Hunter, playing quarterback, had completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Kyle Petterson. The top-ranked Beavers were close to winning it all. But then a miracle occurred, although if you’re on the losing end, you don’t use “miracle” in describing what happened next.
With six seconds remaining in the game, Harding Academy scored a touchdown on a 20-yard pass, capping a 73-yard, seven-play drive. Final score: Harding Academy 49, Glen Rose 45.
The championship game was a bitter termination to a great season for the Beavers. And the memory of the agonizing defeat provides Hunter with a little extra drive as he enters his senior baseball season.
“It gives me that little extra push that if I’m working out, I’m going to do one more rep,” he said. “Or if I’m in the batting cage, I’m going to hit one more just to make sure.”
While Glen Rose’s 2012 baseball season didn’t end with a heartbreaking loss equaling the school’s 2012 football season, the Beavers’ season still fell short of their goal. After winning their conference and the Class 3A Region 2 Championship, Glen Rose was knocked out of the Class 3A State Tournament in the first round, finishing the year 20-7.
On the season, Hunter, 6-0, 190 pounds, excelled at the plate. Batting third in the order, Hunter finished his junior season with a .351 batting average with 21 RBIs and nine doubles. Hunter also scored 27 runs and was a perfect 11 of 11 in the stolen-base department.
On the mound, the right-hander was 3-2 with a 1.85 ERA, and five of his earned runs came in one short outing against Jessieville (a 12-6 Glen Rose win). He also recorded 43 strikeouts in 41.2 innings while allowing 25 hits and walking only 14. When he wasn’t pitching, Hunter played several positions in the field but saw the most time in left field.
Hunter’s work on and off the field has earned him a spot as one of the leaders of the Beavers baseball team, where he will be one of the Beavers’ biggest weapons at the plate, in the field and on the mound, being joined by junior Wesley Ramsey.
“[Hunter is] just a special kid all around,” said Glen Rose coach Chase Meyers, who is entering his third season as the Beavers head baseball coach. “He’s solid in the classroom. He’s going to be here every day when he’s supposed to be, and he’s going to put in the extra work and the extra time and the extra swings and the extra throws. He’s a leader for you because the kids know that he is dependable, and he’s just one of those kids that the rest of the team looks to, to see how he reacts to things. That’s really going to set the tone for the rest of the team.”
With eight returning starters from last year’s team, Meyers expects big things from Glen Rose this spring. “We are really balanced,” he said. “We play solid defense; we get solid pitching; we can hit one through nine [in the batting order]. … There are really no holes in our defense.
“We expect to accomplish everything that we did last year. We just want to add a state championship to it.”
Hunter threw for more than 2,600 yards his senior season in football, earning a spot on the Arkansas Activities Association All-State 3A football team, and that same arm strength helps Hunter on the mound. Along with his arm, Hunter also points to his baseball knowledge as a main strength.
Hunter’s football talents will next be on display at Arkansas Tech University, where he plans on majoring in engineering. “I just like math and that’s mostly what that is,” he said. (He’s unsure if he’ll get the opportunity to play baseball at Arkansas Tech.)
Hunter also started at post on the Glen Rose basketball team, but jumping from sport to sport to sport comes naturally for him, so even though he found little time for hitting or pitching in the offseason, he’s ready for baseball.
“I just go with it,” he said. “It ain’t really nothing to it,” although he noted he wanted to improve his opposite-field hitting.
And there’s only one goal in Hunter’s mind for his senior baseball season: “Win the state.”
Meyers said the 2013 team has the necessary ingredients for going a long way in the postseason, but he expects his squad of 20 to keep their “heads on straight.”
“We do have a lot of seniors, and a lot of guys who have played a lot, and we need to stay focused on the task at hand and not start looking ahead too much,” he said. “We just need to take it one day at a time, one pitch at a time.”
That first pitch has already arrived this spring for Hunter and the Beavers. During the Beavers’ first game of the year — a 12-2 win over Bauxite — Hunter collected two hits in four at-bats, including a double, and knocked in a run.