HARRISVILLE — Nobody can ever accuse Harrisville senior Peyton Schmitt of being lazy.
Schmitt spends two of the high school sports seasons traveling 42 miles round trip every weekday to Gouverneur to compete on the football and outdoor track and field teams.
He competes for his hometown school in boys basketball in the winter, and this spring he will also play on a lacrosse club team Harrisville is starting. The Pirates dropped baseball and hope to move into the Northern Athletic Conference in boys lacrosse in the near future.
Schmitt’s future is on the football field, where NCAA Division III schools St. Lawrence University and Hobart are each hoping to add him to their roster this fall.
But his most memorable moment in high school came on the basketball court where he led the Pirates to a 67-54 victory over Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville in the state Class D championship game last month, scoring 26 points. He average 19 points and 11 rebounds this season and is the Northern Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player on the Times All-North boys basketball team.
Schmitt is a naturally gifted athlete, but he has reached his successes in high school by working hard.
“I think I underplay how many (basketball) games he plays during the summer, about 50 a summer and 150 over the last three years,” Pirates coach Brian Coloney said. “He kind of balances that with football. I think football is his true love. In summer he’ll go to a football camp and drive three hours to get back to General Brown to make sure he plays back-to-back games in our summer league.”
Said Schmitt, “It was very hectic (last) summer. I went to about 20 football camps and we had basketball pretty much every weekend. I only had one weekend off last summer and I was also working (in maintenance) at my school weekdays until 3 p.m.”
Schmitt is the type of physical specimen unavailable at most Class D schools.
“His strength and speed alone set him aside from a lot of players,” Coloney said. “His skill set is very good. He’s just well above everybody athletically. He’s probably one of the most athletic players I’ve had in the program. He can get away with a lot. He’s so athletic he can switch gears and slow down. He’s so quick off his feet, with the weight he put on, muscle-wise. He’s an all-around good kid. You can get after him and he’ll shake his head yes and go play harder. He has great parents and a great family. He’s the ideal player.”
Harrisville is a small village with a little more than 600 residents tucked in the woods on Route 3. The community met the team when they returned from Binghamton after winning the state title, with several fire trucks escorting the squad into town and about 200 fans gathered in the center of town.
“To finally get Harrisville a state championship, it’s never going to be forgotten, because it’s the first,” Schmitt said. “It’s not just for Harrisville, it’s for all the north country teams, it proves they can compete in any sport. It’s just great growing up in a small town. I couldn’t tell you how many congratulations we got. After we won I was hugging people I didn’t even know.
“It feels amazing to be able to finally do that, especially in my senior year. Having the best way possible to go out is a feeling I can’t describe.”
Schmitt’s next big life moment will be when he makes his college choice.
“I’m pretty much still up in the air, but hoping to make a decision pretty quick,” Schmitt said. “I’d like to be playing running back or wide receiver. Hobart wants me more as a running back. SLU wants me to do what I did in high school.”
Schmitt also hopes to make a second straight trip to the state outdoor track and field championship meet after qualifying in his first year in the sport as a sprinter last year.
“It was a really cool experience,” Schmitt said. “I found out there are a lot of fast people when you get to states. I’m glad I didn’t finish last. It’s amazing. You live for those moments, nothing says you’ll ever get to (events) like that or be able to do it in multiple sports, multiple times.”