By Matt Goisman
HARTSHORNE — Hartshorne senior Dylan Pingleton wasn’t automatically given the position of starting quarterback this season. Pingleton only came in at quarterback in key situations last season, and he entered the 2013 preseason in an open competition for the spot.
But as early as the Miners’ first scrimmage in August, coach Bill Williams knew Pingleton was the right man for the job.
“He just made it a point that he was going to be the guy, and we could see it on film,” Williams said of Pingleton on Wednesday.
“He willed it to happen, and he’s done some great things. He wanted it so bad, he wasn’t going to let anybody take his job.”
Though born in Talihina, Pingleton has always lived Hartshorne. He said as a boy he and his father Rick, a former Haileyville Warrior, would frequently attend Butler-Jennings Field on Friday nights to watch the Miners.
Pingleton started playing football with the Little Miners in third grade.
“My best memory that year would be our first win, when we beat Quinton,” Pingleton said. “I think it was 24-0. When you win your first football game, that’s pretty fun.”
Other than two years spent as a receiver in junior high, Pingleton said he’d always been a quarterback before he joined the high school team. He got into his first varsity game as a punter — a position he still holds — against Heavener his sophomore year.
“My first punt, I came in the game, and I think we were about on the 50 (yard line),” Pingleton said. “I punted it all the way down to the 1, and that felt pretty good.”
Pingleton said he likes being quarterback because it means he’s always part of the action. The position challenges him to be someone on which the rest of the team can rely, even when he’s handing the ball off to one of the Miners’ talented running backs.
Primarily a wide receiver last year, Pingleton said he didn’t get that same feeling.
“I really like being back there the whole time, instead of switching from receiver to quarterback all the time,” Pingleton said. “It seems like you’re still in the game, but when you’re all the way out there (at receiver), it’s a lot different from being right there in the middle of everything, calling the plays.”
Pingleton has risen to the challenges of his position this season, throwing multiple touchdown passes this year and helping the Miners win their first playoff game since 2010. The Miners’ only loss to a 2A opponent came against Vian on Nov. 1.
Despite the loss, that game still ranks among Pingleton’s favorites as a Miner. And should Hartshorne and Vian meet in the state championship, Pingleton said this time the Miners will come out on top.
“You always think you can go all the way,” Pingleton said. “I believe we can if our defense can keep doing what they’re doing, I keep throwing like I’m throwing and we keep running like we’re running.”
Williams said Pingleton was one of the players with 100 percent attendance during the Miner Pride summer workouts, and it was clear even then how much effort Pingleton put into keeping his 6-foot-2, 215-pound body in shape. Pingleton also did powerlifting during the 2012-13 winter, finishing runner-up in the 198-pound class at Regionals, qualifying for State and placing fifth.
Pingleton said he’s trying to earn a football scholarship next year. He’s attended camps at Oklahoma Baptist University, Northeastern State University and Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and he’s in the process of getting registered on the National Collegiate Scouting Association website.
“He definitely could go somewhere and keep developing,” Williams said. “He’s shown signs of being special. I absolutely think he’s got that opportunity.”
Even if he can’t earn a scholarship, Pingleton said he plans to go to college. He wants to major in civil engineering, making the University of Arkansas and its quality engineering program a dream school.
“My uncle, he’s a civil engineer, and it just seems like something I’d be good at,” Pingleton said. He added that his favorite class has been a geometry class he took last year, and much of what he learned in that class should translate directly to his future profession.
When he’s not doing football-related activities, Pingleton is part of the Future Farmers of America organization, Hartshorne High School’s student council, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America organization, the Boy Scouts and Cornerstone Baptist Church in Hartshorne.
Pingleton has had to earn his place on the Miners. But as the Miners’ starting quarterback, Pingleton has shown each week why Williams picked him to lead the team.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.