Guilderlands Paris Hart ended his highschool soccer profession with a title
Paris Hart is a senior two-way lineman for the Guilderland soccer team.
On Friday night, Hart helped the Dutch win the program’s first playoff championship when Guilderland rallied late for a thrilling 21:20 win over Shaker for the Class AA title.
In 2019, Guilderland upset Shaker in the Class AA semifinals of Section II and lost to Shenendehowa in the final.
Q: Can you give me an idea of how you are feeling right now and how you felt on Friday?
A: Generally just a champion. After the win, I just felt that all the work we put in had paid off. It paid off especially against a team like Shaker. To win one, I feel like the score really tells almost half the story. It shows how difficult it was to win a game. It’s just a reward for feeling like a champion.
Question: “I reported on the first game when you played Shaker in week 2. You are down 18 points and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter after losing 35-25.” How much confidence did such a performance bring you into the rematch?
A: When we went into the second game, we knew they were going to try to pinpoint some things that hurt us in the first game. We were convinced of our plan and trusted the system. We had some good scout guys that week. I think they did their system pretty well. It’s hard to do. Our coaches and our boys helped us do well.
Q: How long have you been playing football?
A: I started playing in eighth grade.
Q: Did you play other sports?
A: I played basketball.
Q: What kept you going about football?
A: Well, I played running back in my eighth grade. In my freshman year I also played running back, but I played more defense on the line. I was taken to JV in my freshman year. That’s when I realized that I had a good chance to play Uni (in my second year). When I got there I started. I realized that I was getting pretty good at it. I took up the offensive line in my junior year. That was definitely an adaptation of wanting to run back from running back to wanting instead of having to move up in that position for your teammates. It makes you more of a selfless person that I like more as a team player and protect my teammates.
Question: “I have been reporting on coach Dan Penna’s teams for a long time.” I was there when Guilderland took the lead 17-0 against La Salle at halftime and lost in the Class AA Super Bowl. As much as the team wanted to win for each other, how badly did you want to win a championship for your coach?
A: Oh, we 100 percent wanted it for Trainer Penna. That was even the motto (2019): “Get one for coach Penna.”
Q: There are many coaches who are one point behind 90 seconds to go and choose to kick the extra point and try to win the game in overtime. How excited were you when coach Penna decided to try the two-point switch?
A: I absolutely loved it and knew he would try. We tried hard to try. Once (Shaker sidelined when Guilderland lined up for the kick) that was all it took us to give it a try.
Q: I know you never thought the last game of your high school career would be on April 30th. How would you characterize the seven-week Fall Season II campaign, which is limited to Section II only?
A: I think it was worth it. It was just as good to have football back in some form or way. It’s soccer. I know that the guys on our team and the other teams here like to play football.
Paris Hart is a two-way lineman for Class AA Champion Guilderland. (James Franco / Times Union Special)
James Franco / Times Union Special
Q: Guilderland has a lot of respect for Shaker. I think Shaker has a tremendous respect for Guilderland. How good does it feel for your program to win playoff games against them in a row?
A: I think we have this outsider mentality. I think that really put the chip on our shoulders during the season and made us tougher and tougher every week. We’re proud of a team that tries to beat us twice. The second time we were stronger than ever.
Q: Are you in college for the next year?
A: Yes, I made a commitment to play defensive tackle at Buffalo University. I will go on there. I am very excited.
Q: This is an opportunity to play for a good program. Do you know what your major will be?
A: I will study biology.
Q: How great is it to complete your school career as a champion?
A: It’s sad to leave the program. I have to remember that we won. There is no better way to end the season.