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Storybook end all set for Hess

September 02, 1998

Sam HessBy BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




HANCOCK - Hancock's Sam Hess always feels the "spirit" when he takes the field for the Panthers each weekend. It just isn't necessarily school spirit.

Since the 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior was old enough to listen, he remembers family talking football, particulary the legacy of the Hess family in Hancock football.

Young Sam understood early on that the tradition of a champion existed in his bloodline, and he was expected to play each and every down with that spirit inside of him.

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That spirit drove him to the weight room when many of his friends were driving elsewhere. Grueling, self-motivated workouts had a purpose. He was going to carry on that spirit.

Friday nights have long been a family reunion of sorts to the Hess family since the early 1960s.

"I have a lot of family in the stands for every game," Hess said. "Their support means so much to me ... it makes me play at a different level."

Though there has not been a member of the Hess family playing football each year since the 60s, one member of the clan helped to write a famous chapter in Hancock football history.

Even a bout with a serious illness could not keep this individual away from a game - and a spirit - that he loves.

Dick Hess, who played tackle for the Panthers under legendary coach Paul Imphong, roved the Tri-State playing fields with a vengeance, helping Hancock to win three straight Bi-State Conference championships and post a 23-0-1 record.

Although many today don't rember much about those teams, every Hancock football fan can tell a Dick Hess story.

"I hear about him all the time and he comes to every game. He had such an impact on his teams and this program," Sam Hess said of his uncle, who was once offered a tryout by the Baltimore Colts. "I want to be that kind of player. ... I want to impact my team."

Some say he already has, like when he rushed for 245 yards in last season's finale against rival Berkeley Springs.

"That was last year," Hess says with a grin. "It only counts if you do it now."

Some people hope it counts in the future. Penn State and Maryland are already talking to him, impressed with the dedication and intensely competitive nature that summarize his personality on the football field.

However, Hancock's quiet senior takes it all one step at a time.

"We open with Smithsburg," Hess said. "I want to play well there and then take it one week at a time."

And the tradition? The Hess legend?

"My teammates and I plan to work hard every week," he said. "Maybe we can write our own stories."

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