‘It’s a great time to be a Pirate’

October 25, 2023

– Photo courtesy of Chrissy Klotz

‘It’s a great time to be a Pirate’

Pirate News is a presentation of Hart Public Schools in partnership with Oceana County Press. 

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — For the first time in the school’s history, Hart’s football team is in the state playoffs.

The 8-1 Pirates face the 7-2 Kent City Eagles this Friday night, Oct. 27, on their home field. 

After years of struggling to have a successful gridiron program, the Pirates are reaping the rewards of a phenomenal season. Just eight years ago, Hart did not have enough upperclassmen to field a varsity team. Now, they’re ranked sixth in the state.

Hart High School Dean of Students Joe Tanis took over as coach and is cultivating outstanding success in just three seasons. The first season, the Pirates were 4-5 overall, and last year their record was 6-3. Their only loss this season was to number-1 state ranked North Muskegon.

Tanis said the recent upswing in sports at Hart comes from the top. The support from Superintendent Mark Platt, Athletic Director Tim Hertzler and building principals Troy Moran, Kevin Ackley and Brandon Bruce has created a winning atmosphere, he said. “It all really starts with them.”

He also credits the team’s success to his coaching crew. I have great assistant coaches — I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without them. I’m surrounded by a great staff.”

Hart is one of five schools that had never earned a trip to the playoffs since the state tournament began in 1975, said Coach Tanis. Perry was one of those five, and like Hart, they are also making their first-ever playoff appearance Friday. “Two of us got off the list this year, so there are only three left.

“This is what I dreamed about and what I envisioned,” said the coach. “I’m just grateful. I’m excited that we get to experience this with the group of kids that we have.

“We’ve had a ton of community support since we started. We work hard to give back and be visible in the community.”

Attendance at the football games has continued to grow, and school officials are expecting record attendance at Friday night’s game.

“We put in a lot of work over the summer, and I think we expected and knew where we could be at the end of the regular season,” said senior Chase Gale. “Now it’s paying off. It’s just a lot of fun being on the team. We all work really hard but we all have fun at the same time.”

“I’m having a lot of fun right now,” said junior cornerback Brody Clark. “I think we’ve got a good chance (against Kent City). I think we match up well.”

“We have a really good run defense, and I think we’ll be able to handle what they do,” said Gale, who plays outside linebacker. “It’s just going out there and being confident that we can do it.” 

“We feel very good going against them this week,” the coach said of the Eagles. “They’re a similar style of team as they want to run the football. That’s kind of what we match up well with. We are not always the most athletic team out there, but our kids are tough and physical and play smart football.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Gale said of the community support. “We haven’t always had that success in the past, and the community is still there after all these years.”

“It’s just awesome seeing everybody at the games,” added Clark.

“We have a great culture in our district and our buildings,” said the coach. “I think you see that come out on the field. It’s a great time to be a Pirate.”

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