Montgomery wide receiver Colton Harer played solid football as a sophomore but did not play at all as a junior. He walked away from the game, but soon was itching to play again.
His father told him as he grew older, football would be one of the high school topics he and his friends would fondly look back at. Harer did not want to miss out.
And now he has some great stories to tell.
SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
Montgomery’s Colton Harer, right, scores a touchdown against Wellsboro during the 2012 season. Harer will play in the District 4 North-South All-Star game on Friday in South Williamsport.
Despite a mass exodus and constant obstacles thrown in Montgomery's direction, Harer had the best receiving year in program history last fall. The fast and lanky receiver caught a record 76 passes for 816 yards and six touchdowns while also playing well on special teams. The team endured a winless season but Harer was one of those players who kept competing hard, kept believing and revealed as much about his character as his talent.
"After not playing my junior year I decided to come back out because I wanted to help the team as much as possible," said Harer, also a basketball and track standout. "I am extremely happy I came back out. I am pretty confident in saying it was one of the best decisions of my life."
Montgomery was equally grateful, especially after 13 players, many starters, quit last Aug. 23. The Red Raiders usually are fortunate if they have more than 30 players anyway, so the walk-out left huge voids. Most weeks, Montgomery dressed between 16-18 players and had only 20 on the roster.
From disaster, though, grew something special. The Raiders never won last fall but they achieved something equally important. They made a statement about everything sports represent and Harer was out there leading the way.
Friday, Harer and teammate Luke Forrestal represent Montgomery in the District 4 North-South All-Star Game at South Williamsport. Both are profiles in determination and resilience.
"Luke and I both take a lot of pride in making the all-star game after the adversities we had to overcome, and representing our town," Harer said.
Harer represented Montgomery with gusto last fall and his numbers ranked him among the state's elite receivers. He led District 4 in receptions and blew away the area competition, finishing with 23 more receptions than the runner-up. Quick enough to get behind defensive backs and tall enough to jump high for passes, Harer made an enticing target and had some of the best single-game performances in Montgomery history, making at least 10 catches three times.
Harer delivered his virtuoso performance in Week 9 against Canton. On that rainy day, he caught 11 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Harer was unstoppable in the second half and his yardage was the highest by an area receiver in seven years.
"Holding most of the school's receiving records is a great accomplishment that I am proud of," Harer said. "But I couldn't have accomplished them without the team. They helped a ton."
Like nearly every Raider, Harer rarely left the field. He returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns against Cowanesque Valley and added two sacks on defense. No matter the score, no matter the situation, he kept going strong.
That strong performance did not go unnoticed. Harer was both a HAC-III all-star and the Sun-Gazette Receiver of the Year. Now, he is a District 4 all-star.
Harer will compete in track at Albright next spring but has not closed the door on football, yet. He said he would consider playing and that he would enjoy it if he did.
Friday, though, has nothing to do with college. The player who never gave up, never gave in, has earned another shot to leave the high school field victorious.
"(The expectations) are two words: To win," Harer said. "If the game is anything like our practices, this is going to be a heck of a fun time."
Looks like father truly did know best.