Matthew Hartwig’s future is in football.
The Janesville Parker senior was The Gazette’s all-area tight end and an all-Big Eight Conference selection for the 2019 season. He’s mulling over several college offers already and hopes a strong upcoming season this spring expands the list of suitors.
For the next month, however, Hartwig remains a key cog in one of the most compelling success stories of the winter high school sports season—Parker boys basketball. The Vikings are 11-5 overall, including wins last week over state-ranked Beaver Dam and Monroe. The 6-foot-3 Hartwig is averaging 7.7 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. His tenacious defense has helped the Vikings limit opponents to 54.5 points a game.
Parker coach Matt Bredesen raves about his three-year starter.
“The one thing you can count on with Matthew is that you know you’re going to get 100% from him,” Bredesen said. “He’s a competitor and a winner.
“He’s been a big part of starting to turn around the Parker program because he is one of those kids who’s reliable, competes every day in practice and games and is a role model for teammates. Whatever we ask him to do, he does for the good of the team.”
Hartwig said what makes this basketball season so special is that not only are the Vikings racking up wins, but it’s happening alongside lifelong friends and teammates.
Hartwig, Ethan Thompson, Robert DeLong, Brenden Weis and Nick Galvan started playing on the same team in fifth grade. Hartwig, Thompson, DeLong and Weis have played for Wisconsin Swing in the summer since middle school.
“We’ve won some games this year where we got behind that the old Parker teams would’ve just put their heads down and lost without putting up a fight,” Hartwig said. “It’s different this year because we know we can play with anybody on our schedule. And we proved that again last week.
“I’ve known these guys for so long and have played with them for so long that I just feel like I always know where they’re going to be on the court and what their next move is going to be.”
The high school basketball season ends March 6. The truncated “alternate fall” football season this spring—for those schools that opted out of the fall season—starts March 8.
Hartwig said he is not worried about the short time span between sports.
“I’m in basketball mode right now,” Hartwig said. “And that’s a credit to my teammates. They’re dedicated right now to basketball, and I owe it to them to do the same thing. I’ll worry about football when it comes.”
Hartwig was a standout on the gridiron in 2019. He caught 27 passes for 262 yards.
Parker, which finished 1-8 in 2019, scored 13 touchdowns all season. Hartwig had five of them.
“Matthew is an unbelievable talent and an even better person,” Parker football coach Clayton Kreger said. “He is a high-character kid, multi-sport athlete, and a student that continues to remain on the high academic honors list.
“Our coaching staff expects a monster season from Matthew, whether he is lining up at defensive end, as an unattached tight end, fullback, receiver or down in a three-point stance where he has been the last couple of years.
“A number of college coaches have already inquired about Matthew, and I would expect that number to increase significantly when they see his film this year.”
Those offers will have wait for now. Matthew Hartwig and the Vikings are in basketball mode.