It has been a spectacular run for the Hopewell-Loudon football program In coach Brian Colatruglio’s five years, the
Chieftains are 63-6, including a sparkling 49-1 regular
season record. Included are four league championships, five straight
playoff appearances, three regional championships and two appearances
in the Division VI state championship game. Time to add to the legacy.
Bascom Hopewell-Loudon (14-1, State Runner-Up)
* Players to Watch – OT/LB Hudson Smith (6-1, 190, Sr.); WR/OLB Matt Brickner (6-0, 180, Sr.); RB Aaron Kapelka (5-9, 185, Sr.); OL Aric Hoover (5-10, 240, Sr.); WR/DB Miles Chapman (5-11, 180, Sr.)
* Outlook – It has been a spectacular run for the Hopewell-Loudon Chieftain football program In coach Brian Colatruglio’s five year tenure, the Chieftains have posted a 63-6 mark, including a sparkling 49-1 regular season record. Included are four league championships, five straight playoff appearances, three regional championships, and two appearances in the Division VI state championship game.
However, a new season is here, and Colatruglio has the challenge of replacing a senior class that won 52 games in their four-year careers. But as is true in many successful programs, the Chieftains look to reload rather than to rebuild.
The first place coach Colatruglio will look is to the benefits of past success.
“The biggest thing our success has done is sell our younger kids on our program,” Colatruglio said. “They see the success of the older kids, and we don’t have to push kids to get in the weight room. They just show up every day.”
Colatruglio also feels the tradition gives his team a mental edge.
“Our kids expect to win when they step on the field,” he continued. “Also, sometimes the other team has some doubt in the back of their mind as to whether they can win.”
Replacing some outstanding individual talent will be the first step for the 2009 season.
The biggest question mark is at quarterback, where 2008 D-VI Offensive Player of the Year, Tyler Brown, shattered many of the school records over the past two years. Besides all of the numbers Brown posted, Colatruglio had another concern.
“Replacing his leadership is going to be just as tough as replacing his physical talent,” he said. ” He was the unquestioned leader of our team.”
The cupboard is not totally bare however. Colatruglio feels that the one thing his staff has been able to do is adapt to their strengths. With Brown being a tremendous passer, the Chieftains threw the ball a lot and were pretty good at it. This year they have running back Aaron Kapelka returning, and Colatruglio looks for him to be the workhorse.
Kapelka rushed for over 1500 yards last year and 20 touchdowns in a balanced offense.
This year he will be the focal point and carry the load, especially early in the season until the new quarterback gets settled in.
Matt Brickner is another experienced back who will combine speed and power to the Chieftain attack.
Hudson Smith and Aric Hoover return to anchor the offensive line, and Colatruglio is confident this unit will be a strength of the team. He will look to senior Grant Hess and sophomore Eric Depinet as starters, and he feels that Cody Feathers or Luke Swartzmiller are capable of filling out the final spot.
“We may not be as athletic up front as last year, but pound for pound, I think we will be bigger and stronger and maybe more physical.”
On the other side of the ball, defense has always been a major building block of the Hopewell-Loudon program, and this year will be no different. A great place to start is the return of the D-VI Defensive Player of the Year, Hudson Smith, at linebacker.
“With Hudson, our front eight will be solid, maybe as good or better than the last 4-5 years,” Colatruglio stated.
A core of Smith, Brickner, Hoover, Miles Chapman, and Kapelka is the reason for that optimism.
The secondary is possibly the biggest area of concern. Chapman, who also doubles as a receiver, is the lone returning starter in that unit. Replacing Jay Yost and Andrew Brickner, who were two year starters, will be a challenge. However, Colatruglio feels he has some options in kids who are talented but have been stuck behind some outstanding athletes and football players.
“We don’t have much experience coming back, but I think we have some sophomores who are going to be good,” he said.
With a strong nucleus returning, coach Colatruglio likes his team’s chances in the 2009 season. At the same time when he looks at the Midland Athletic League, he sees a league that will be deeper and stronger than in the past. Listing Carey and Calvert as two of the favorites, he did not overlook other teams such as Seneca East and Lakota, the new kid on the block, and perennial favorite, Mohawk. In addition to the league, two new teams dot the non-league portion of the schedule. Along with old rival Elmwood, Otsego and Northwood will be new challenges for the Chieftains.
Depth could be a problem for Hopewell-Loudon, but that certainly is not unique at the Division VI level. Colatruglio summed up his feelings about the upcoming season this way.
“With only 4-5 juniors in the program, we will be looking to our sophomore class. Seven or eight of those kids are going to be really good players, and if they can contribute this year, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
8/28 @ ELMWOOD (BLOOMDALE)
9/4 @ OTSEGO (TONTOGANY)
9/18 MOHAWK (SYCAMORE)
9/25 ST JOSEPH CENTRAL CATHOLIC (FREMONT)
10/2 @ SENECA EAST (ATTICA)
10/16 CALVERT (TIFFIN)
10/23 @ NORTH BALTIMORE
10/30 @ LAKOTA (KANSAS)