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Meet the Surprising Star at Washington's Rising Stars Camp

Seattle Prep shocked a pair of powerhouse schools this past Washington high school football season. In the middle of it all was Husky hopeful Austin Harnetiaux.

Heading into the pandemic-delayed 2020 football season, nobody gave Seattle Preparatory School a shot at beating O'Dea in the third game of the season. Even fewer believed that Seattle Prep stood a chance against Eastside Catholic's star-studded roster the following week.

Both in one season? 

Snowball meet hell.

Seattle Prep shocked O'Dea on a two-point conversion on the last play of the game to win 15-14. A week later, Prep backed up that victory with another one over Eastside Catholic 20-7.

In the middle of it all was a hard-hitting 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior linebacker and tight end named Austin Harnetiaux. 

"Nobody outside of our inner circle saw it coming," Harnetiaux said. "Nobody except us."

He joked that knocking off both O’Dea and Eastside Catholic in one season probably hadn’t been done since the 1980s. It may have felt like 1880s with the response of the Prep community.

"It was crazy," he recalled. "The fans, the students, the alumni. It was a really big deal to do that for our seniors."

In reality, he was just thankful to even have a football season.

"I had to tap out my sophomore season when I tore a quad muscle," he said. "Then COVID hit."

So he chose to look at the shutdown as an opportunity with the season pushed back.  

"I worked my butt off to transform myself after the injury," he said. "COVID was my own personal opportunity to close the gap between myself and my competitors."

He became a workout drifter, of sorts, going to parks around the city of Seattle that were open to the public.

"If I was going to become bigger, faster, stronger I also had to be smarter," he said. "I had to find consistency in a world that had none at the time."

The extra months the season had been pushed back was time he used wisely.

"My parents had to drive me to parks or friends houses with gyms," he recalled. "I found the consistency that I needed."

Losing his sophomore season made him hungrier and kept him motivated to keep going even when he was working out on his own. 

"I will never take the sport for granted again," he said. "I love the game. I'm obsessed and consumed by my craft. I'm committed and disciplined to be the best linebacker in the state."

The hard work has paid off at various camps. He was the tight end and fullback MVP at Eastern Washington's; the fastest linebacker at The PLU Showcase camp, running a 4.67; and won the linebacker MVP at the Washington Rising Stars camp the last weekend in June.

"Nobody knew who I was in March," he said, lowering his voice. "Nobody knew who that Prep linebacker was until they looked at the tape."

That Seattle Prep linebacker, whose name nobody knew nor could they pronounce, had a breakout game against Eastside Catholic. He forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and collected 3 tackles for loss among his 11 tackles. He also had an interception with 1:35 left in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. 

 Every time Harnetiaux straps on a helmet he has a certain mindset.

"I've had the underdog mentality my whole life," he said. "Nobody expected much out of me, so I have always demanded the most out of myself."

He is compared to Husky linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio for his huste. Coaches expect to see him sprinting from drill to drill in practice or in camps and giving it his all in games.

"I am going to hit you on every play with everything I've got," he said. "I don't know how long you're going to be able to take that."

The morning after winning a Metro League championship in basketball, Harnetiaux was back on the football field, flying around the Lewis and Clark field for their Northwest Showcase. UW coach Jimmy Lake saw Harnetiaux running around barking out commands to his teammates.

"He said to me, 'Man you're crazy,' " Harnetiaux said. "He knew that I'd had a big basketball game the night before. He meant it as a compliment."

Since his breakout season, he's been speaking with Husky defensive coordinator Bob Gregory more frequently.

"He calls me 'Juice Man,' " Harentiaux said. "He said that I bring the juice, the energy, the passion, I'm the loudest one on the field."

To those who didn't know his work ethic, he was a surprising star at Washington's Rising Star camp, earning the linebacker MVP honors.

With his body right, he hopes to gain a better understanding of the game.

"That's where I have a big opportunity to grow and play at an even higher level," he said. "I want my coaches to trust me so they can put me anywhere they need me on defense."

With his sudden visibility, plus making Lake and Gregory aware of who he is, his next step is to take this connection even farther.

"It would be a huge honor to get an offer from Washington," he said.