The Hawley Bearcats are coming off their first state championship appearance is school history, and a key player is returning to their their lineup. Running back and linebacker Austin Cumpton is back for his senior year. Cumpton was sidelined for most of the Bearcats deep playoff run, due to a serious neck injury he suffered in the regional quarterfinals.

Austin Cumpton said, “I fractured my T5. I flipped over into the endzone and kind of landed on my head and then I went to the doctor, and it was rough for a while. I’m healthy, doing 100% and putting some weight on my back and I’ve been doing great and I’m just ready to kick it off in the fall.”

It wasn’t easy for Cumpton having to watch his team compete for a state championship from the sidelines, but he’s using those painful memories as motivation, to take his game to the next level.

Austin Cumpton said, “It was tough but, I couldn’t be down on it because I was just happy for my teammates, because that’s a once in a lifetime experience and we defintiely want to go back and we defintiely have the talent to do it again and not only just be there, but win it all this time.”

The combination of Cumpton’s physical downhill running ability, and the talented group of wide receivers ready to explode for big plays on every down, this Hawley offense is ready to do some serious damage this fall.

Kason O’Shields said, “He’s a big kid, like it’s hard to tackle him, running at him. It’s heard kids say, ‘I just bounce off of him.’ He’s actually illusive int he field. It’s kind of surprising for the size of that kid to be fast and illusive.”

Head Coach Mitch Ables added, “It’s huge to have those tough, good, hard nosed tough kids playing when the game is on the line and the later you go the more you need them.”

There was a point late last season where Cumpton didn’t know if he would be able to play the game he loves every again. That realization has him doing everything he can to make the most of every moment he spends on the gridiron.”

Austin Cumpton said, “My dad has always said, ‘give it 100% because you never know when it will be your last year.’ I took some injuries and that could have been my senior year, it could’ve been the last time I ever played high school football. I’ve just goitta not take anything for granted, get reayd, build my body up, go off this season, go do what I can do, and then go play college ball somewhere.”

Hawley running back and linebacker Austin Cumpton is a Sports Player to Watch.