They stayed on the field until the bright lights went dark and the grandstands emptied. J. R. Hasty was out there somewhere, soaking in the final moments of his high-school career...
BELLEVUE They stayed on the field until the bright lights went dark and the grandstands emptied. J.R. Hasty was out there somewhere, soaking in the final moments of his high-school career, celebrating the only way he ever wanted, with his teammates and the trophy on the Tacoma Dome floor.
That’s all over now.
The next time you see him it’ll probably be in some big stadium on some Saturday afternoon, far from the little locker room at Bellevue High School and the football program he helped build into a dynasty.
Year by year his legacy grew, building toward this final season when his cleat prints would be stamped all over the record books.
“I don’t think there’s any way to rank it,” said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. “He has had by far and away the best season I’ve seen anybody have.”
Hasty, a 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back, rushed for 2,519 yards and scored 50 all-purpose touchdowns, a state record. He gained 12.1 yards per carry, set all-time KingCo Conference rushing records for yards in a season and career (5,493), and had the third-most all-purpose touchdowns in state history (92).
But those numbers only tell half the story. They show nothing of how Hasty saved his best for when it mattered most, or of how he played both ways on a bum ankle for the better part of the final month, or how he constantly deflected credit to teammates.
Then there’s the team success. The Wolverines posted a 51-2 record, winning four state titles and a No. 8 national ranking by USA Today during his four years.
For all of those reasons, Hasty has been selected The Seattle Times’ State Player of the Year for football.
“It kind of hit me that high school is over,” Hasty said the other day. “It seems like I’ve been here for so long.”
Goncharoff has run out of adjectives to describe Hasty, but ask him what he’ll most remember about his star running back, and stories like this one pour out.
Before the first game of the state playoffs only one week after being helped off the field with what appeared to be a season-ending ankle injury against Newport Hasty insisted on playing even though he was significantly less than full strength.
That night he scored three touchdowns and led Bellevue to a first-round victory over Franklin Pierce.
He played the next week, too, and the week after that, never more than “75 percent” healthy, according to Goncharoff. Opposing players could see Hasty was hurt, and sometimes, when he’d get tackled, guys in the pile would grab his ankle and twist.
Hasty just taped it tighter and kept on running.
“That just cemented to me how great a kid he is,” Goncharoff said. “When we had the whole world hurt, and we needed somebody to step up and play, he played. That showed the world about his guts and his toughness and his character.”
Hasty avoided talking much about his achievements during the season, but now that his high-school career is complete, he said he’s proud of what he accomplished. He keeps a plaque commemorating his KingCo rushing record in his bedroom, along with his three (soon to be four) championship rings.
“They mean more now,” said Hasty of the records. “It feels good that my name is left there. When people look in the record book, everybody will remember how I did it.”
Before games, Hasty would lead the Wolverines onto the field, sprinting toward the nearest end zone and leaping on the base of the goalpost, a tradition he said he learned from former Bellevue star Brian Tapia.
During games, Hasty showed a healthy mean streak, sometimes throwing stiff arms that resembled heavyweight jabs.
And afterward, when the reporters would swarm him, he’d just shrug and say he couldn’t have done anything without his teammates.
“He’s a good kid,” Goncharoff said. “He always plays hard.”
Of Hasty’s 50 touchdowns this season, 32 came in the first half, as Bellevue typically built such big leads that he rarely played past the third quarter.
Hasty scored only seven touchdowns in the fourth quarter, in fact, and five of those came in the playoffs. The remaining two came against Liberty of Renton, the Wolverines’ toughest regular-season opponent.
Now, everybody wants to know where he’ll go to college. Hasty has talked about committing somewhere with teammate E.J. Savannah, one of the state’s top linebackers. The two visited Arizona State over the weekend, and have another trip to Oregon planned for early next month.
Whatever happens, Hasty’s legacy at Bellevue appears complete.
“He’s the best player to come through here,” Goncharoff said. “It’s pretty doubtful we’re going to see another season like that, at least not in my lifetime.”
Matt Peterson: 206-515-5536 or email@example.com
|J.R. Hasty’s season|
|Sept. 4||De La Salle (Calif.)||30||271||4|
|Sept. 10||South Kitsap||10||94||3|
|Sept. 23||Mercer Island||16||302||4|
|Oct. 1||Mount Si||15||254||5|
|Nov. 13||Franklin Pierce||10||85||3|
|* Total touchdowns|