Hartford’s Hamilton Named Vt. Gatorade Player of the Year

  • Hartford's Tyler Hamilton (12) and his fellow team captains (from left) Austin Shepard, Justin Bettis and Hunter Perkins line up for the coin toss against St. Johnsbury in the Division I state championship game in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2017. St. Johnsbury won, 33-32. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file — James M. Patterson

  • Hartford High School's Tyler Hamilton (12) motions to throw for a 2-point conversion on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, during a game between Colchester High School and Hartford in White River Junction, Vt. Hartford won, 53-13. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file — Charles Hatcher

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/12/2017 12:24:43 AM
Modified: 12/12/2017 12:24:48 AM

White River Junction — Tyler Hamilton still carries around scars from Hartford High’s football season, the most notable being a high right ankle sprain that has kept him from transitioning from the gridiron to the hockey rink with the rest of his classmates. The accolades, much like his bumps and bruises, have not gone away just yet, however.

The latest honor came through on Monday morning as the Hurricanes’ senior quarterback won the Vermont Gatorade football player of the year award, a yearly honor recognizing the best high school football players in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Hamilton, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound signal-caller and free safety, also made the Vermont all-state first team in early November, an impressive resume for an athlete who entered the fall season as a first-year starter behind center.

“This feels great,” said Hamilton before Monday’s hockey practice at Wendell A. Barwood Arena. “It’s been one of my goals, really, since the end of last year. It’s something that I’ve always wanted.”

Hamilton was a running back for most of his high school career, rushing for 559 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games as part of a running-back committee during Hartford’s championship-winning season in 2016.

The graduation of quarterback Gavin Farnsworth left the quarterback job open for Hamilton, who took over this past summer.

“We thought there was going to be a little bit of a learning curve,” said Hartford head football coach Matt Trombly. “Going in, we had no idea what to expect. That first game (a 22-19 loss to St. Johnsbury) was a little ugly. But that second game against Middlebury (a 36-7 win), he stepped up big. He was incredible.”

Hamilton admitted that, over the course of the season, it took a while to get used to the leadership responsibilities of the position. The arm, the ability to read defenses and the speed to scramble for yards, however, were clearly already there.

Hamilton led the Hurricanes (9-2) to their second consecutive VPA Division I championship appearance in November. He finished with 61 completions on 90 pass attempts for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns — almost twice as many completions and yards as Farnsworth in 2016 — and rushed 93 times for 922 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was the Upper Valley’s second most-productive scorer behind Newport High sophomore John Thibault and terrorized opposing defenses as a duel offensive threat.

A two-time all-state selection at free safety, Hamilton recorded 50 tackles and two interceptions this past season and finished his high school career with 2,232 rushing yards on offense and 16 interceptions on defense, according to a Gatorade news release.

“Football is something I’ve been working at since I was 8 years old,” said Hamilton, who started his football career with the Thetford Jaguars in kindergarten before switching to Hartford’s Minicanes program in elementary school. “Having it all pay off like this is amazing.”

Hamilton is Hartford football’s fifth Gatorade honoree, the first since Michael Dulac was selected in 2012-13. The award, according to the release, “recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.” Hamilton, it said, maintains a 3.69 GPA and is the president of the school’s athletic leadership council.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate to have a lot of talented kids come through, but Tyler is a real special kid,” Trombly said. “He’s athletic, he makes plays, he’s a student of the game. … He’s a guy that can’t be replaced. We’ve never had a kid like him.”

Hamilton said he’s still looking to play football in college and that his choice — which he expects to be made by Jan. 1 as an early decision — is down to three schools. Trombly said Hamilton’s game is more suited to playing free safety.

Until then, the three-sport athlete is getting ready to rejoin his hockey teammates on the ice. Hamilton’s ankle sprain is nearly healed; Monday’s workout at Barwood Arena was one of Hamilton’s first full practices back, and the senior expects to be ready to go for Wednesday’s home tilt against St. Johnsbury.

“I’m not sure,” Hamilton said when asked what about football was special to him. “It’s just the feeling of playing in front of a crowd like that. It’s definitely different than a lot of other sports.”

As the Gatorade football player of the year, Hamilton will be able to select a national or youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. He is also a finalist for the Gatorade national football player of the year, which will be announced later this month.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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