align="center">Heartening Return for Connetquot's HartnettBY JEFF GOLD | firstname.lastname@example.org
September 29, 2007
The plan was to ease Stan Hartnett back slowly. Maybe that was unrealistic considering Hartnett's all-out approach to everything he does.
For the first time in more than a year, Hartnett was back on the field Friday night. Once again, he was at home under the lights against Bay Shore - the same team Connetquot faced when Hartnett suffered a torn right ACL last season.
"This was exactly what I wanted, exactly what I was pointing toward," Hartnett said.
He came back just in time. Hartnett - wearing two bulky knee braces - made four critical defensive plays as a cornerback to help host Connetquot hold on to a 14-7 victory over Bay Shore in a Suffolk Division I football game. Hartnett was pressed into greater duty because typical starting cornerback James Rowland suffered a first-half ankle injury.
With Connetquot up 14-7, Bay Shore drove down to Connetquot's 16-yard line with 2:08 left. Hartnett batted down a pass destined for Orayne McEachron's hands and the tying score. The drive came to an end two plays later when Thomas Coffey recovered a Bay Shore fumble on the 8.
Bay Shore (2-1) had one final opportunity in the final minute in Connetquot territory, but threw three incompletions and suffered one sack. Hartnett knocked down two of the passes.
"Stan did an unbelievable job and I'm so happy for him. It was heartbreaking what happened to him last season," Connetquot coach Mike Hansen said. "This kid works so hard all the time. He's one of our leaders."
On the opening kickoff against Bay Shore last season, Hartnett blew out his right knee when he was pulled down from behind. After going through eight months of grueling rehab, described by Hartnett as "the worst eight months of my life," he was healthy enough to compete.
He was projected as Connetquot's starting quarterback this season, but this time injured his left knee - MCL sprain - in a scrimmage against Kings Park. Hartnett did more rehab and made his 2007 debut Friday night.
Connetquot (2-1) took a 7-0 lead when Jon Sternbach intercepted an option pitch, never broke stride, and brought it 42 yards into the end zone with 10:22 left in the half.
After Hartnett returned the opening kick of the second half 44 yards, Connetquot extended its lead to 14-0 on a 13-play drive in which running back Chris Dale carried the ball nine times, culminating with a 4-yard TD run. Bay Shore got within seven when Jonathan Kennedy hit McEachron on a 23-yard strike.
It was the first loss of the season for Bay Shore (2-1).