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Hartley signs Huntingdon football scholarship

Fort Dale senior Stephen Hartley signed a letter of intent to play football with the Huntingdon Hawks.  Pictured alongside Stephen Hartley is Richard Hartley, Marion Hartley, James “Speed” Sampley, Gantt Hartley and Shannon Hartley.

Fort Dale senior Stephen Hartley signed a letter of intent to play football with the Huntingdon Hawks. Pictured alongside Stephen Hartley is Richard Hartley, Marion Hartley, James “Speed” Sampley, Gantt Hartley and Shannon Hartley.

Another Fort Dale Academy student athlete has found new wings as a member of the Huntingdon Hawks football team.

FDA senior Stephen Hartley signed a letter of intent with the university Thursday morning, and he said that putting the pen to paper was the culmination of a dream held since childhood.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to do (play football at a collegiate level),” Hartley said.

“But now that it’s actually happened, it’s like a huge honor and a dream come true.  You get to actually play at the college level that you used to watch on TV, seeing college players and always wanting to be like them.  It’s kind of cool to actually become one and do something you love.”

The 6-foot receiver will play a similar role for the Hawks as he did for Fort Dale, which should come as no surprise to spectators during Fort Dale football games this season.

Hartley proved a popular target for sophomore quarterback Luke Taylor throughout the season.  Moreover, his senior year performance showed a marked improvement from an already impressive junior year.

Whether it was due to a great offseason or the burgeoning expectations of senior leadership, Hartley couldn’t say.

“It was a little bit of both,” Hartley said.

“I started working out more during my junior year in the spring—and it just carried over with me wanting to be better.  And yeah, obviously being a senior had something to do with it. Just leading and being the best I can be.  And then you keep going and you want to be good.”

Though college considerations are often a stressful time for graduating high school seniors, Hartley said that Huntingdon’s campus and staff made the choice an easy one.

“They talked to me during the season and asked me to come,” Hartley said.

“And I went to a couple of games up there during the football season and watched some of their games.  I really liked the atmosphere up there.  It’s like here.  Everybody sticks together, and it’s like a family up there.”

Those weren’t the only positive factors, since one of his previous upperclassmen, FDA alumnus Chip Taylor, has been a student at Huntingdon for the past two years.

“With Chip being there and telling me that he loves it and doesn’t regret going, and then actually going for visits and talking to the coaches and seeing that they really do care is really what made me want to go,” Hartley said.

Though Hartley will be leaving a lot behind in the hallowed halls of Fort Dale Academy, he’s fairly confident that he’s taking the most important things with him into the next phase of his life.

“I’ll definitely miss the people here—the coaches and teachers, they all try to know you and help you any way they can,” Hartley said.

“And everything they do for you and just having that relationship with the coaches and being able to laugh and stuff even though they can be hard and push you in the weight room and on the field, it’s good to know that they care for you at the end of the day.

“But the memories on Friday—pre-game meals and working out—that’s never going to leave.  That’s just something special that you’ll always have here.”