Concussions force Clovis’ Hartmann to quit football
The football career is finished for Clovis High starting quarterback R.J. Hartmann after the junior suffered his fourth concussion in a year Friday in a 37-6 road rout of Stockdale.
“I’m heartbroken,” said the player who was having a terrific season for a 3-1 team ranked fourth in the Central Section. “Playing quarterback was my dream since I was in third grade, kindergarten. It’s everything I always wanted to do, and I wanted to play in college, too.”
His father, Rus Hartmann, did superbly as a three-year starting guard for Fresno State teams that went 27-10 from 1991-93, including Western Athletic Conference championships in the Bulldogs’ first two seasons in the league behind quarterback Trent Dilfer.
And it was the father who made the call to pull the plug on his son’s career.
“He basically decided it’s not worth risking my future health later on in life,” said the son, who suffered three concussions within a two-month period while playing offense and defense for the 10-2 Cougars last fall.
R.J. Hartmann also said his father was unable to pursue a professional career after failing physicals because of concussion-related problems.
The son did say his father will allow him to continue to play baseball after he started as a first baseman for a Cougars team that finished second to Bullard for the section Division I title last spring.
Clovis football coach Rich Hammond declined comment.
Hartmann had been one of the section’s most efficient quarterbacks this season, completing 59 of 93 pass attempts (.634) for three TDs with one interception.
He began with a bang, upstaging Edison’s preseason All-State quarterback Khari McGee while completing 13 of 18 attempts for 190 yards and a score in a season-opening 27-10 win over the Tigers.
There is one major consolation for Clovis, which will play Friday at Atwater (3-0).
He is Jake Gatewood, a 6-5, 180-pound junior, who completed 8 of 9 passes in relief of Hartmann against Stockdale and has plenty of varsity experience, having started at Redwood last year before transferring.
“We’re lucky,” Hartmann says. “Jake can step into the role and play as well as I have been.”
Hartmann, meanwhile, will help run the offense from the sideline or the press box.
“Without a doubt,” he says. “And I’ll be here every day in practice.”
By Andy Boogaard