Like any younger brother of an outstanding athlete, Hunter Entsminger hoped to follow in his sibling Reid’s footsteps.
Five years younger than his brother, Hunter watched as Reid helped the Sherando Warriors win a state championship in baseball in 2013 and advance to the title game in football later that fall.
“He was my older brother and essentially my role model growing up,” said Hunter, who wore the same No. 8 his brother did in football and baseball. “I looked to everything he did. I just really wanted to be like him when I was a little kid. He basically was like a superstar.”
Like Reid, Hunter did some amazing things. As a quarterback, he led the Warriors to a state football semifinal game as a junior and had them rolling as a senior until being sidelined by a playoff injury. As a pitcher and outfielder, he helped Sherando win 17 consecutive games this past spring.
Like his brother, Hunter is a Winchester Star Offensive Player of the Year in football, a Player of the Year in baseball and now joins Reid as The Winchester Star’s Boys’ Athlete of the Year.
While the two brothers are so alike in the many things they accomplished athletically, they are distinctly different.
While Reid was a physical, bruising runner as a football quarterback who could pass, Hunter carved up opponents with precision throws and only took off from the pocket when the situation was needed.
As baseball players, Reid was a hitter who was also a good pitcher, while Hunter was a pitcher who could hit.
And physically, Reid was a 5-foot-10 powerhouse with rippling muscles built from many hours in the gym, while Hunter is a slim 6-foot-1.
“Both are different personalities,” Sherando football coach Bill Hall said. “They achieved the same goal differently. Reid was much more of an extrovert, much more vocal and a different type of a player. He was more aggressive and more physical in the way he played the game. Hunter is much more cerebral — not that Reid wasn’t cerebral. Hunter was much more introverted. He was much more lead by example. He is much more calculated with what he does.”
“We were different in the way we approached things,” Hunter agreed. “He was the guy that was always in the gym and getting big. I’m more of the technical guy, working on mechanics and all of that stuff, getting the fundamentals down.”
Hall, whose son Will is also a senior, saw the signs that the younger Entsminger brother was going to be a special athlete.
“You had the early inklings because Hunter had success in any sport growing up,” Hall said. “It was kind of unique that I got to know him early as a kid, but with him being the same age as Will I saw Hunter compete on the basketball court and he was very successful there. I saw Hunter when he played in the Cal Ripken World Series.
“He had the success early on and obviously he was a very good athlete. You knew the family background, his athleticism and he was a gym rat. He was always around the game, always had a ball in his hand and always wanted to be playing a sport. That atmosphere lends itself to success down the road.”
And while his older brother practiced, Hunter was often around there on the sidelines.
“Hunter, Will and Jack Duvall always grew up around practice,” Hall said. “In August, those guys were always playing on the dummies and always around the program. I knew Hunter from when he was little all of the way up through. He always grew up around the game. He was always a part of Sherando football even before he got to Sherando.”
The grandson of former Washington Redskins placekicker Mark Moseley certainly found his own niche on the gridiron at quarterback.
Hall said that Hunter, a dedicated student of the game, wanted to be more known for more than being “an athlete who played quarterback,” a label that his older brother did not seem to mind.
Not only did Hunter have a cannon for an arm, he also was precise. Over the course of his final two seasons, Entsminger threw for 4,593 yards and 51 touchdowns with just nine interceptions.
And this past season, he proved just how tough and dedicated he was to the team.
In the 10 games that he started, the Warriors averaged 44.4 points per game, much of that offense recorded before halftime as Sherando racked up huge numbers and allowed the reserves to play in the second half. Entsminger completed 100 of 148 passes for 1,857 yards, 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
The only game the Warriors lost during an Entsminger start came against Martinsburg (W.Va.), a team that outscored its opponents 732-127 and extended its winning streak to 42 games. Sherando was the only team to come within three touchdowns against the Bulldogs in a 50-45 loss.
Entsminger suffered an injury in that contest and would have to play the final half of the season wearing a brace on his left knee. He’d lead the Warriors to a Northwestern District title and to a regional semifinal win before being injured again in a victory against Kettle Run. With Entsminger watching from the sidelines, Sherando would fall to eventual state champion Woodgrove in the regional title game.
“Football, it’s a very energizing sport,” Hunter said. “It really brings out the competitor. If you don’t get excited playing or watching football, then there’s something wrong with you. You need to check your pulse or something. It brings out the competitor and makes you better no matter what aspect of life you’re in.”
When you’re a quarterback it also brings out leadership skills. Entsminger, a student of the game, remembers what it’s like being new on the varsity.
“When I was a freshman I had [quarterback] Pat [Minteer] and he was a senior,” Entsminger said. “I saw what he did for me and how much he helped me, so if anybody needed help I was there,” Entsminger said. “I know everything about the football team now. It’s really just teaching the young kids to make it easier for them because I know how much it helped me.”
“I think Hunter has a great perspective,” Hall said. “Again, he’s an introverted kid. I think people probably misconceive it and expect Hunter to be an extrovert. That’s not his nature. He’s a very cerebral, sit back and observe things person. I think he’s very comfortable in his surroundings. I think he understands the role he’s played for guys on our team. I think understands the influence he has on our team.”
He had that same type of role as a baseball player, too.
And the Warriors found their own piece of success that even surpassed the 2013 team. After opening the season 1-1, Sherando ripped off 17 consecutive victories.
Entsminger was a big part of that, both winning and saving games on the mound and hitting .359 from the cleanup spot in the lineup.
Aside from his talent on the mound (6-2, 1.57 ERA, 87 strikeouts in 53.2 innings and 4 saves), Entsminger provided an example for his teammates to follow. That’s coming from someone who had already signed a Division I scholarship to play baseball at James Madison.
“Hunter is well liked, but even more importantly he is well respected by his teammates,” Sherando baseball coach Pepper Martin said. “They see him in practice in the outfield. The day after he’s pitched, we are taking BP and someone hits one in the gap and he’s diving. I’m out there hollering for him to be careful because I don’t want him to get injured, but there he is making diving catches in practice. The other players see that. He’s just trying to guide them along and show them the way Sherando baseball is played.”
And maybe no better example came when the Warriors season finally came to an end. Following a tough 5-3 loss against Riverside in the Region 4C semifinals, teammate and best friend Payne Bauer was very emotional about loss. It was the last time the two would play together.
Hunter walked over to Bauer, a junior, put his arm around his friend and offered encouragement.
“I’m not much of a crier,” Entsminger said. “I was just up there and telling everybody, ‘You’ve got to keep your head up high.’ Like Payne, he has another whole year to play. He’s got to come out next year and go farther than we did this year. You’ve got to be a leader. They have to learn from the mistakes we made this year. You’ve got to let them know that they can still do great things.”
Both his coaches said that example tells a lot about Entsminger.
“It speaks in volumes the kind of kid he is,” Martin said. “Inside, I know Hunter was hurting, too. He knew it was the end of his high school career. Of course, he’s got another chapter to read in that book. … Hunter knew Payne was emotional about it and he tried to console him even though you would think Hunter would need a little consoling. He’s just such an unselfish person.”
“His role right there was to let Payne know it was going to be OK,” Hall said. “I think that takes a lot of maturity for a high schooler to be able to step back and see kind of the moment what needs to happen there. Again, I think he comes from such a great family that gives him perspective, but I think it also takes a special kid to embrace that moment as a teachable moment for a teammate and a dear friend.”
Entsminger said that maturity is learned.
“You’ve got to be mentally strong to play any sport, whether it’s football or baseball,” he said. “You’re going to not have things go your way all of the time. If you’re not mentally strong, you’re just going to crumble. Having that mental strength to pick yourself back up after failing, that’s something you really need in playing sports.”
And playing sports has been a family lifestyle. The sacrifice yielded that dividend of a Division I scholarship.
“It shows the years and years of hard work that I put in, the 10 summers that I never got to have because I was playing baseball,” Entsminger said. “It shows all of the hard work I put in to get to this position I’m in today.
“Being a little kid 10 or 12 years old, you want to be out there with your friends in the summer and enjoying summer and going to the pool and everything. You don’t really appreciate going to the field every day and practicing for three hours and going away for a weekend four hours away. Looking back at it, that made me into who the person I am today. I couldn’t be more thankful I stuck with baseball. It’s the best game that’s ever been played.”
The scholarship is just one more thing the two Entsminger boys have in common. Reid played a season of football at Lamar University in Texas before returning home and playing football and baseball at Shepherd University.
As different as they were as players, coaches remember how much they were alike where it counts.
“Coach [Craig] Bodenschatz and I have been blessed to have had an Entsminger in our Sherando baseball program for eight out of the last nine years,” Martin said. “Both Reid and Hunter possess a unique combination of leadership skills. They have the ability to be a vocal leader in a positive way, but they also lead by example in the way that they work hard in every practice and the way they competed in games.
“That makes players like that a joy to coach. When you practice and you’re trying to get some things accomplished and you’re trying to make some improvements and strides and they are out there competing in practice every day and working hard, it’s such a great example for the other players to emulate.”
“Reid and Hunter are very humble players and I think Hunter kind of learned that from his brother,” Hall added. “Reid could have very easily could have not been a humble player, but that was just his nature. I give the credit to his mom [Lindsay] and dad [Doug] that he came from the nature of being very humble and just worked extremely hard to achieve the success that he had. When you pair that with being a great athlete, that’s a recipe for success.”
And you can bet that the two brothers like to compare those successes.
“We’re always competitive, even to this day,” Hunter said. “We’re always going at something at how I was better than him or he was better than me. We go at it today non-stop. My mom gets so annoyed by it.”
But Hunter says that despite those arguments, there’s one thing they know they share.
“We are always there doing the things we need to do,” he said. “My dad ever since we were little told us, ‘Nothing comes easy. You’ve got to work for it.’ It’s installing that mind-set from a young age and how we’re not going to be handed things and that we’re going to have to work to get somewhere in life.”
And it’s those life lessons that Hunter feels led the two brothers to winning the Athlete of the Year honor.
“I hope it makes our parents proud that they’ve got two of them,” he said. “I think that the things that they taught us as little kids has really shown throughout the years of us growing up.”