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As losses mount, BLH grid coach remains positive

HECTOR -- Chuck Hartman has endured a lot in his tenure with Buffalo Lake-Hector. In 4½ years as the Mustangs' head coach, Hartman has compiled a record of 3-35.

The Mustangs were winless in their last nine games when Hartman took over in 2001. BLH went 0-8 in Hartman's first year and started the 2002 season 0-3 before it broke a 20-game losing streak with a 12-0 win over Cedar Mountain on Sept. 20, 2002.

Last Friday, the Mustangs ended another 20-game losing streak when they beat Renville County West 20-6 behind the solid play of junior quarterback Ty Kramer. BLH never trailed against its new Southern Minnesota Conference foe as Kramer threw for 301 yards -- the area's highest total this season -- after completing 14 of 21 passes, including one for a touchdown to senior tight end Matt Sandgren that covered 11 yards.

"Kramer was hot and RCW did a nice job of taking away our run," said Hartman. "We're still kind of a running team, but we've got a stable of receivers to give the ball to. We're in the situation of we'll take what you'll give us."

In the Mustangs' first three games of the season Kramer had completed only 20 of 53 passes for 174 yards and had thrown five interceptions. But last week his short passes were turned into big gains as Sandgren, senior wide receiver Joe Sparks and junior fullback Lawton Burgstahler combined to haul in 10 catches for 259 yards.

BLH had been shut out six times and outscored 722-179 between its 21-6 win over Red Rock Central to open the 2003 season and last week's victory.

"If it was about wins and losses, I would have hung it up a long time ago," said Hartman. "You coach for the young men and to be role model. We're developing a good work ethic, something that was almost non-existent when I first got here.

"It takes time and you've got to have the athletes, too. We've got some, but we still have a long way to go."

Hartman was an assistant at Rochester Century in 1998, the first year the school had a varsity program, before becoming an assistant at state power Hutchinson in 1999 and 2000.

BLH (1-3, 1-3) is at McLeod West Friday.