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Hart football team makes history in style with 44-0 payback victory over Ravenna

Pirates win eight games for first time 1968 and beat Bulldogs for first time since 1992.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

HART — Hart football fans are accustomed to seeing jersey No. 32 zig-zagging across the field and scoring touchdowns. Joseluis Andaverde, aka “Beast Mode,” has been doing his thing all season.

But who was this No. 68? Who are these Hart Pirates?

The player with the lineman jersey number was senior Connor Edwards, who ordinarily wears No. 11 but put on No. 68 in honor of his late uncle, Jason Foster, a former Pirates football player who died in 2000.

Edwards and his Hart team played with extra motivation en route to a resounding 44-0 victory over Ravenna, which has posted many of those types of scores or worse vs. the Pirates over the years.

Hart senior Connor Edwards is escorted by his parents during the parents night ceremony prior to a game against Ravenna Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, in Hart, Mich. Edwards, who normally wears jersey No. 11, wore No. 68 in honor of his late uncle, Jason Foster, a former Pirates player. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

“He’s awesome, you know. He’s, like, just the leader of the group on defense, offense,” Andaverde said about Edwards. “We look to him, we listen to him, and he’s just a great teammate. I see him as a captain, leader, and just a great brother honestly because we’ve built a bond.”

The long-awaited triumph over Ravenna wasn’t just any win for Hart:

  • It gives Hart it’s first eight-win season since 1968 and only the second in program history.
  • It’s the first victory over Ravenna since 1992.
  • It’s the largest margin of victory for Hart over Ravenna in series history.
  • It avenged last year’s 48-0 loss at Ravenna, which kept Hart out of the playoffs despite the Pirates winning six games.
  • Not only has Hart earned its first-ever playoff berth, the Pirates look to have secured at least one home game in the postseason.
  • Hart added to its school-record point total. The Pirates have scored 372 points in nine games.

“Nobody really expected us to do it in the beginning,” Edwards said. “If someone would have told us that we were going to go 8-1 and beat Ravenna, I don’t think many people would believe it. This is just a really special night for everybody, especially the community.”

It’s been a collective effort and it was again Friday, but Andaverde and Edwards did a lot of the heavy lifting. They combined for all six of their team’s touchdowns and nearly 300 rushing yards.

Andaverde finished with 160 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries, while Edwards ran for 133 yards and two TDs on 18 attempts. Andaverde scored on runs of 4, 12, 2, and 11 yards, while Edwards scored on runs of 15 and 33 yards.

Andaverde also accounted for a two-point conversion and a safety. Edwards recovered a muffed kickoff and an onside kick.

“He’s a powerhouse. He’s someone we lean on a lot. He’s very special to our team,” Edwards said about Andaverde. “He just goes the extra yard with everything, whether it’s running the ball or getting the block, he’s always there for it and he’s just a very special aspect to our team.”

Among Hart’s 363 total offensive yards, 360 were picked up in the running game. Ravenna finished with 106 yards of offense — 89 passing and 17 rushing.

The Pirates led 22-0 before the Bulldogs knew what hit them. Hart capitalized on early Ravenna miscues, including a muffed opening kickoff, high shotgun snaps over Bulldogs QB Dylan May’s head, and an onside kick, to take control with the game’s first six minutes.

Defensively, Joaquin Flores led Hart with seven tackles and an interception. Adrian Lara and Halen Boos also picked off passes.

May was 8-of-19 passing with three interceptions. Bulldogs senior Blake Homoly caught six passes for 68 yards. Junior Derek Finlay led Ravenna’s defense with 11 tackles, while Homoly had seven and senior Nick Mabrito six.

Ravenna closed the campaign with a 3-6 record, the first sub-.500 season for the Bulldogs since 2017. Injuries mounted for the ‘Dogs this season, as they recently were missing seven starters at one time and had a handful of key players in street clothes Friday.

Ravenna coach Justin Ego tipped his cap to Hart and its single-wing offense, a formation which provides an extra blocker at the point of attack.

“Tough, physical. Good ball carriers. That offense, they get a lot of guys to the point of attack,” Ego said. “The key is to try to kind of try and watch ’em but it’s tough to get a lot of guys to that gap.

“It’s tough when they’ve got all those guys coming through and you’ve got a linebacker sitting there waiting and three guys coming to block him.”

Tanis was an assistant coach at Ravenna prior to taking the head coaching job at Hart two years ago. He also was a finalist for the Ravenna head-coaching position when Ego was hired.

Hart was 4-5 in Tanis’ first season at the helm in 2021, then improved to 6-3 last fall.

Prior to last season, the Pirates had posted 23 straight losing seasons and that’s not counting 2015, when there was no varsity team.

Tanis saw opportunity when the Hart position opened. He and the Pirates stayed the course and stuck to their process, which has yielded results.

“The people — definitely the people,” Tanis said about what attracted him to Hart. “I always give credit to Kyle Jawor, the Ravenna AD, who pushed me this way and said, ‘Look at the people,’ and it’s been the people. Our athletic director (Tim Hertzler), our superintendent (Mark Platt), our principal that I started with, Brandon Bruce, who is now our elementary principal, but he’s taken a team that’s never been in the playoffs, to the playoffs. And then I had Troy Moran come in (as principal), who I absolutely love and has been a big part of it.

“Definitely the people, the community, and then the opportunity to do stuff that’s never been done,” added Tanis, who also served as a head coach at Orchard View. “There’s only a few of those jobs in the state and we felt like there’s a lot of things we could do here and we felt like the situation and the timing was right.”

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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