Fans of Wake Forest football won’t soon forget the 2021 team. The 7-0 Demon Deacons have steadily climbed the national rankings throughout the year, now sit at No. 13 in the country and are one of only nine FBS teams still undefeated.
So far, this season has been one of the most successful in the history of the Wake Forest program. It marks the second time ever that Wake Forest has had a 7-0 record and the first time since 1944 (when they won their first seven and finished 8-1). The 2006 Demon Deacons, perhaps the best Wake Forest team ever, began the season 5-0 before ending the season as ACC champions with an 11-3 record and a loss in the Orange Bowl.
The 2021 version has a chance to eclipse that.
Led by dynamic quarterback Sam Hartman, Wake Forest’s offense is one of the most productive in the country, averaging 43.14 points per game (fifth-best in the nation) and scoring at least 35 points every game.
Hartman, who’s a redshirt sophomore but has been with the program since 2018, has thrown for 2,073 yards and completed 65.3 percent of his passes so far in 2021. That has resulted in a career-best 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions, to go with another 147 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
By far his most prolific game came on Saturday in a 70-56 road win against Army. He completed 23 of 29 passes for 458 yards and five touchdowns (tied for the program’s most passing touchdowns in a game). He added another score on an eight-yard run to cap off his incredible day. His six touchdowns and his 458 passing yards are both career-highs, all accomplished without a turnover.
For his performance, Hartman was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, the first Wake Forest player to earn the national award since it began in 2004. More such performances could start to put him in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
A Wake Forest captain for the last two years, Hartman excels on the field after, he says, he prays to God before each game, thanking Him and asking for safety. He also sometimes wears eye black under his right eye in the shape of a cross.
In 2019, Hartman reflected on football and the 2015 death of his adopted brother, Demitri Allen, by suicide in an article for Athletes For God.
“Demitri always had a smile that lit up the room,” Hartman wrote. “I never saw him down, probably because he was so focused on everybody else. He always seemed to brighten up your day, and he was just the coolest person to be around. Whenever you were struggling with something, Demitri was usually the cure to your problems.”
Hartman’s faith in God helped him to come to terms with Demitri’s death. He said the Bible passage Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 has been a source of comfort.
“I sat there on the dock [the night of his death], and I told myself that there is a plan,” Hartman wrote. “Sometimes we don’t know what the plan looks like, but God has a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if the light is so dim that some of us — like Demitri — can’t even see it, that light is still there.”
Two days later for the North Carolina state championship game, Hartman wrote Demitri’s initials on a wristband and wore Demitri’s old number, No. 10. He’s worn No. 10 ever since.
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Next up for Hartman and his Wake Forest teammates on their quest to stay perfect is a home game against Duke on Saturday. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.
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