Gus Hartwig poses with his family at his All-American Bowl jersey ceremony.

ZIONSVILLE – Gus Hartwig remembers watching former Zionsville Community High School standout Blake Lueders play in the All-American Bowl 10 years ago, and wanting to be in that position one day.

That wish is now a reality for the current Eagle senior. Hartwig was presented with his jersey for the 20th-annual All-American Bowl on Wednesday afternoon at the high school.

“It was a really big goal of mine to be able to play in this game,” Hartwig said. “After a while, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. But it came, it is a blessing, and I am really excited to be able to showcase my talents and go against some of the best players in the country.”

Hartwig found out in early October that he was one of the 100 players from around the country to be chosen for the game.

The All-American Bowl is the premiere high school all-star event that honors the top-100 seniors each year.

From the previous 19 installments, there have been 380 NFL draft picks, 159 NCAA All-Americans and 144 Pro Bowlers.

“It is really special to know that I am going to get to represent Zionsville at this high level,” Hartwig said. “Growing up in Zionsville, and being able to show that on a national stage is going to be awesome.”

This isn’t the first time that Hartwig will get the opportunity to represent Zionsville on the big stage.

After his freshman year, Hartwig represented the United States in the International Bowl in Dallas. He said he wasn’t sure if any of those players will be playing with him again this January, but that he is still excited to go up against the other best kids in the country.

“There are a lot of guys there who have accomplished a lot in high school,” Hartwig said. “It is going to be fun to play against those guys and go against some of that top talent.”

Hartwig has been a fixture on the offensive line during his four years at Zionsville.

A Purdue commit, he is the third-ranked player in the state of Indiana and the No. 1 center. Hartwig said that he feels like he has grown a lot as a player in his time as an Eagle.

“I think I have really learned the little things,” Hartwig said. “Taking those steps and doing specific things, rather than just being a good player. There are little things that have made me a good player. The work I do in the weight room, and the extra stuff like that, it has helped me be the player I am today.”

One person who has helped Hartwig immensely is offensive line coach Dylan Gandy.

Gandy, who has 10 years NFL experience, has helped hone his skills.

“Coach Gandy has been huge for me,” Hartwig said. “I started working with him in eighth grade and he has been back here the last two years. He has really helped me learn the value of the little things, having good technique every play, not taking plays off and things like that.”

This season, the Eagles have rushed for more than 175 yards a game.

Because of injuries and match-ups, Hartwig has had to play multiple spots on the line, something which he says will help him when he gets to Purdue and further down in his career.

“It gives me a good perspective on what everyone is doing on the line,” Hartwig said. “We have had some injuries, so with guys moving around, I can help them out with what they need to do. When I get to Purdue, playing different positions will benefit me and help me contribute anyway I can.”

While Hartwig is excited for the game in January, the Eagles still have big games ahead.

That starts with the opening round of the sectional against Pike on Friday. Hartwig said the Eagles are confident that they can make a deep run.

“I am really looking forward to it,” Hartwig said. “Right now, I feel like 6A is wide open. I think we can beat anyone in our sectional. I’m not scared of Pike, I’m not scared of Brownsburg and I’m not scared of Avon. We are approaching it one game at a time, we are focused on Pike this week and hopefully that’s a start of a deep run. The problem this year is that we lost ourselves and if we don’t hurt ourselves, I don’t think anyone can stop us.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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