Grant Hartley shined in the spotlight that follows a quarterback or the ace of a pitching staff. But he also thrived behind the scenes in a supporting role.

Edward Little’s teams succeeded regardless of the senior’s role, no more so than when he was a reserve on the school’s first state championship basketball team in 72 years.

“He was a huge part of our success. And we needed him,” Coach Mike Adams said. “Grant made us better.”

A 6-foot-3, 220-pound bruiser, Hartley was one of the few Red Eddies who could prepare teammates for the physical challenges of playing in Class AA North.

“My job in practice was to kick the living crap out of our starters and get them ready for what they were going to be playing against,” Hartley said. “The way I looked at it, I’m the scout team offense or the scout team defense (in football). I’m the guy throwing (batting practice).”

“In a game, my job was to encourage the starters and come off the bench and try and lead the bench,” he said. “It was different than football and baseball.”

Make no mistake, Hartley was an even more daunting physical presence in the fall and spring.

At quarterback, he led Class A North for the second year in a row with more than 1,000 passing yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 53.6 percent of his passes.

Hartley did his fair share on the ground, too, rushing for more than 250 yards and seven touchdowns. Also an all-conference punter and starting safety on one of the league’s top defenses, he led the Red Eddies to their best record in a decade (7-2), and the top seed in the playoffs.

EL’s season came to a abrupt end in the regional semifinals against eventual regional champion Windham, 21-12. Hartley didn’t let that erase what his team had accomplished, particularly in answering doubts about whether Edward Little could ever compete again with the more storied Class A programs.

“It was a tough early loss in the playoffs, but we beat Bangor, 44-0. We beat the Portland teams (Portland, Cheverus and Deering). We beat Windham the first time we played them,” Hartley said. “I feel like we left the program in a better place than what it was.”

Hartley’s performance earned him recognition as a Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist and an offer, which he accepted, to enroll at the University of Maine as a preferred football walk-on.

Before taking on that new challenge, Hartley accepted one final assignment from his high school coaches in the spring.

Although he had no varsity mound experience, Hartley rewarded Coach Dave Jordan for naming him the starter on opening day by tossing a complete game in a 5-1 win over Hampden Academy. Other complete game wins over Oxford Hills and rival Lewiston, which was coached by his father, Darren, helped the Eddies roar out to a 12-0 start.

Already established as one of the top power hitters in the state, Hartley saw less pitches to hit this spring because of his reputation. Nevertheless, he batted a team-leading .461 with a .616 on-base percentage. He was the KVAC North Player of the Year and a finalist for the Winkin Award as the state’s top senior baseball player.

Like his fall season, Hartley’s spring season and high school career ended more abruptly than he’d hoped with a regional quarterfinal loss to Mt. Ararat. But it didn’t dampen his appreciation for how his final year unfolded.

“I’ve been very lucky to have a senior year like this,” Hartley said. “It was a great outcome of all of the hard work me and my teammates have put in for all of these years.”


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