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Work of Art-is

WGH WR wins TCCA award

HOWLAND — With the Trumbull County Player of the Year trophy essentially up for grabs in 2019, it wasn’t surprising who came down with it.

It wasn’t surprising to everyone but the winner.

Warren G. Harding’s Ty Artis had a breakout senior year for the Raiders and won a close race for Trumbull County Coaches Association Player of the Year honors. The announcement was made at Monday’s banquet held at Leo’s Ristorante, where all 16 players waited in anticipation during a year where there was no clear-cut choice.

“I was shocked,” said Artis, who finished just two touchdowns shy of eclipsing the school record for TD receptions in a season, set by former NFL standout Mario Manningham. “I didn’t believe them (when they called my name).”

The speedy, sure-handed receiver was a big-play machine for Harding, which made the Division II playoffs in back-to-back seasons after finishing 7-3 in 2019. Artis was a huge reason why.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior was a two-way starter, solidifying the secondary at safety and leading the offense as the Raiders’ No. 1 receiver. He made 28 catches for 752 yards this year, averaging nearly 30 yards per reception (26.8). His nine TDs were two behind Manningham’s record.

“He made some catches that were just unbelievable,” said Harding coach Steve Arnold, who quickly recalled several highlight-reel grabs by the ultra-athletic Artis. “I think it kind of gets overshadowed, some of the plays he made, by the general public or by the fan base. But when you’re a coach, and you see some of those catches on the sideline, or the next day in film session, you’re like, ‘How’d he make that catch and stay in bounds?’

“He was the guy that we had to get the ball to.”

The breakout year was a long time coming for Artis.

His talent was well known to he and the coaches since junior high, but injuries kept Artis from showing his skills on the big stage. He played sparingly as a sophomore and junior, mainly because of a torn hamstring, among other lingering injuries.

Artis never lost faith, and he decided to make a change to his offseason regiment by dedicating himself to the weight room.

“I never took the weight room serious,” he said. “My senior year I took it serious though. I knew I had to lead, on and off the field. A lot of the younger guys looked up to me.”

His confidence never wavered either.

Artis didn’t have a single touchdown catch before his senior year. In fact, he had just one career reception for 35 yards prior to the 2019 season. Still, he and Arnold both agreed the potential was there, and after committing an offseason to the weight room, his body held up. Artis didn’t miss a game as a senior and was a central figure in the locker room and on the field.

“Huge role,” said Arnold of Artis’ impact on Harding returning to the playoffs after losing 10 starters on offense and seven on defense, including current Rutgers running back Kayron Adams. “You always have to have a big-play guy. I don’t care if he’s running the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball — you always need that guy on your team. Ty was that for us. Last year it was Kayron. Then it goes back to Lynn (Bowden), so you need that guy, and Ty was that guy for us this year. He was imperative.”

Artis joins a long list of former Raiders to earn the award.

He’s the sixth Harding player, joining Joe Varley (1978), Korey Stringer (1991), Carl Diggs (1998), Maurice Clarett (2001) and Bowden (2016). There were two players from Warren Western Reserve as well, Rozelle Richardson (1984) and Jermaine Richardson (1989).

Artis, who is still deciding where to play college football, said he was humbled to be part of such an elite group, especially since he grew up idolizing Bowden, now an NCAA star at Kentucky.

“I looked up to Lynn when I was coming into high school,” he said. “If I can push to be like him, or somewhere near him, that’ll be the best thing for me.”

He moved a step closer Monday.

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