Throughout his high school career, Drew Hatfield has seemingly lived — and thrived — in the spotlight.
As a mere freshman in 2016, he was already a captain and the leading receiver and one of the top playmakers on Mingo Central’s state champion football team.
A few months later, he was a starter on the Miners basketball team that knocked off favored Poca in the Region 4 finals, snapping the Dots’ 52-game home court win streak and sending Mingo Central to the state tournament, where it earned its first win at the state’s showcase event, with Hatfield scoring a team-high 23 points.
As a junior, he was the subject of much notoriety for playing football in the fall with the Miners and basketball in the winter at Logan, switching back and forth between the accomplished Corridor G athletic programs, reportedly due to his father’s job. And now as a senior, and back home on Miner Mountain, Hatfield’s threatening to break a bushel of West Virginia receiving records, several of them from Nitro’s memorable showtime run to the 1998 Class AAA title.
“Drew is one of those guys you want to coach,’’ said Josh Sammons, Mingo Central’s football coach. “He’s a kid you want to see do good, not only on the football field but in school and the community and throughout life.
“He’s a great football player and anytime he touches the ball, great things can happen. You can see that from the numbers he puts up. I can’t think of anybody else I’d like to see have an opportunity to break those records.’’
Hatfield, at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, was a contender for the Randy Moss Award last year as the state’s top receiver, and figures to be near the top of that list again. Only this time, he might be supplementing his candidacy with some records for single-season and career efforts.
The most likely mark to fall is the regular-season record for catches, which is currently 99 by Nitro’s Chris Fulmer in 2003 (see chart). Hatfield, who averages more than 11 receptions, has two games remaining in the regular season and needs just 8 to match Fulmer. Hatfield enters Friday’s home game against Chapmanville with 91 catches for 1,375 yards and 17 touchdowns, all of them coming from Miner junior QB Daylin Goad.
The single-season yardage and TD marks are also well within his reach — 1,443 yards by Fulmer and 24 TDs by Jefferson’s Christian Johnson in 2014. Career records, which include playoff games, are also possible, especially if the Miners (6-2, No. 14 in the Class AA ratings) qualify for the postseason this year.
Hatfield stands 21 catches, 437 yards and 13 TDs away from the current career marks, having hauled in 308 passes for 4,631 yards and 61 touchdowns in his Miner career.
Other potential targets are the single-season all-games records for receptions, yards and TDs, all held by former Nitro flash Chris Martin, who played catch for 14 games with two-time Kennedy Award-winning quarterback J.R. House in 1998 and ended with 132 receptions, 2,056 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Asked if breaking any of those records meant more to him than the others, Hatfield had a ready answer.
“If I ended up getting one of those records,’’ he said, “I’d say probably the yards. I feel like, as a receiver, my job is obviously to catch the football and the yards show the extra work I put in when I get the ball. It kind of shows the skill I have with the ball.’’
One of the more remarkable things about Hatfield’s record chase is the fact that he’s by far the focal point of the Miners offense as a wideout. The top rusher for Mingo Central is Goad (699 yards, 16 TDs) and no running back has more than 359 yards.
So teams realize the ball is going to Hatfield, and he still manages to put up big numbers every game. His 91 receptions represent two-thirds of Goad’s 135 completions.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our offensive coordinator, Coach [Joey] Fields,’’ Hatfield said. “He plans week to week how he’s going to get me the ball and put me in the best situations I can be. He does a good job with that. I try to play to my skill level and try to make plays with the opportunities Coach Fields gives me.’’
Sammons doesn’t feel like Hatfield’s stats are inflated by his team’s offensive approach. Conversely, with the Miners giving up 21 points per game, Sammons knows that, many weeks, they have to score freely to keep up.
“He’s a playmaker,’’ Sammons said, “so we’re going to get him the ball as many times as we can in the game. It’s just an obvious coaching point. It’s something anybody would do if they had him on the field. He gets the ball, gets yards and gets the ball in the end zone.’’
Sammons also heaps praise on Hatfield’s leadership, which can be attributed in part to being the son of a coach. Kevin Hatfield, his father, is the former boys basketball coach at Mingo Central.
“He came in his freshman year, and he was a leader from the get-go,’’ Sammons said. “He was a more mature kid for a ninth-grader and was the leader of those receivers. He was one of our captains, and he’s carried that through. He had to earn it, but he came up a mature kid.’’
Hatfield led the Miners in receiving as a freshman on the 2016 AA title team, catching 66 passes for 809 yards and 11 TDs despite missing two games with a foot injury. In the Super Six, he caught six passes for 96 yards.
Unlike last year, when he and younger brother Devin followed their father to Logan following football season, Hatfield intends to finish up his athletic career at Mingo Central and graduate from the school next spring. Where Drew Hatfield goes from there is still up in the air.
“My dream is to play Division I sports, and lately football’s been my way of getting there,’’ said Hatfield, whose lone D-1 scholarship offer comes from Morehead State, along with D-2 offers from the likes of Fairmont State, West Virginia State and Glenville State. “But really, I don’t have any [preference]. I put all my stuff in God’s hands, and let Him lead me down the path he wants me to take.’’
Sammons thinks Hatfield could play at the D-1 level.
“In the right situation with the right team,’’ Sammons said, “I think he can. Somebody needs a player like him — an intelligent kid, good at school and the No. 1 thing, he can also make plays on the field.’’