Hnatkowsky focusing on future

Michael Hnatkowsky has put up record numbers in college. PHOTO: Sharon Kirin

Michael Hnatkowsky is still doing a lot of the same things.

Hnatkowsky, a Bustleton resident and soon-to-be senior at Muhlenberg College, is attending meetings, learning to work with new people and trying to game plan to be successful.

But most of this summer, the quarterback hasn’t been learning the Mules offense. Instead, he’s preparing for his future off the field while interning for Johnson Kendall & Johnson, a full-service insurance and financial planning firm in Newtown.

“It’s going really well, I’m learning a lot and we’re doing a lot of work, they’re teaching us a lot,” Hnatkowsky said. “There’s a lot of similarities, not just in football, but in all sports, I think. You go to meetings, you have to think on the fly. It’s a great company. It’s mostly work from home because of coronavirus, but I’m up in my room 8:30 to 4 working. It’s been great.”

When he’s not working, Hnatkowsky is spending quality time with his family in Sea Isle. And while most of his summer has been perfect, he did get a bit of bad news recently when the Centennial Conference Presidents Council decided to suspend any intercollegiate competition for sports scheduled for the fall semester. That meant Hnatkowsky and his teammates won’t be playing, and this is his senior year so his football future remains unclear.

“It’s tough because you don’t want to miss your last season,” said Hnatkowsky, a Penn Charter graduate. “I have to make tough decisions. I’m talking with my parents and other people. You want to play, but you also have to get on with life and get a job, do those things. So it’s hard.”

Hnatkowsky has been plenty successful since taking over the starting job midway through his freshman year, and so has his team.

Entering the season, he has 97 career touchdown passes. No other college football player at any level has thrown that many.

“I don’t know a lot of what I’ve done, you’d be better off asking my dad, he knows it a lot better than I do,” Hnatkowsky said. “But the most touchdowns, that’s a cool one. A lot of it is because some guys leave for the draft, and a lot of it is because of the team around me. They make me look really good. We have a great team, and they have as much to do with my numbers as I do. They really help me out.”

His teammates help, but Hnatkowsky was piling up crazy numbers at the helm at Muhlenberg.

Check out these school records: touchdown passes in a career (97), passing yards in a season (3,640), passing TDs in a season (46), total offense in a season, total yards, total touchdowns in a season, efficiency rating in a season, competitions in a season, attempts in a season and touchdowns in a game. He also shattered every passing record by a freshman.

Just last year, he was named the Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year, broke the school record and conference record for career passing touchdowns, and ended the year ranked third in Division III passing yards, fourth in passing touchdowns, eighth in efficiency, 15th in completion percentage and 18th in yards per attempt.

If there was a passing stat, he was among the leaders, not just in his conference, but in the nation.

“Last year was a great year, but there’s a lot of reasons for it, I’m just one of the reasons,” Hnatkowsky said. “We have a great coaching staff, great players and we work hard on executing.

“We haven’t been able to practice together, but we’ve been having meetings on Zoom, and we’re staying ready. You really don’t know what’s going to happen. It would be great if we were able to play in the spring, but nothing is figured out. We’re all kind of waiting.”

Hnatkowsky has been staying in shape because he never knows when he’ll be back in the game. But he has no shortage of athletes to work out with.

Tops on the list is his dad, but he also has two sisters who are great athletes. Lexi, who graduated with him at Penn Charter, was a three-sport standout star for the Quakers, and now his youngest sister Katelyn is one of the leaders on the Penn Charter basketball team.

According to big brother, sports is a big part of the family’s lives, but it’s not the biggest thing for the group.

“I’ve done some working out at home, my dad has helped me,” Hnatkowsky said. “My sisters are great athletes, too, I said before (Katelyn) was the best and she is. She’s doing great. And (Lexi) is doing great, too. She’s not playing sports, but she’s doing great in school.

“We’re a very close family. This summer has been great because like everyone, we’re spending a lot of time together. We are in Sea Isle a lot, and we’re having fun. Staying safe and spending a lot of time together.”

Hnatkowsky hopes he’s able to return to the football field again, but that’s still very much up in the air. He’s on pace to graduate in May, and he’s hoping once that happens, he’s able to land a good job. If he gets back on the field, it would be fun. But if his college career is over, he couldn’t be happier with the time he spent slinging the ball around.

“I loved Penn Charter, it was the best four years of my life, playing there,” Hnakowsky said. “I had great coaches there. Both (head coach Tom Coyle and offensive coordinator Chris Rahill) were great to me and really helped me. I learned so much playing there and had a lot of fun.

“And college was great, too. I loved playing there. I played with so many great players in high school and college. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but it was great. I loved it.”