The dry Texas heat, the grass clippings, the pairs of cleats stabbing the dirt, and the yelling from coaches to play with more effort. It’s football season folks. On the outskirts of Austin lies Hutto a rural town that supports their Hippos, last season brought execution and success into the playoffs for this team.
A lot has changed for the school most notably a new coaching era. Meet Coach Brad Laplante, the former offensive coordinator who takes over the reins from recent retired Coach Steve Van Meter. Van Meter led the Hippos to a very impressive 11-2 record before losing to Fort Bend Marshall 35-32. Hutto is believed to be in great hands in Laplante who has great admiration for his formal coach.
“Coach VanMeter is a person that I will forever be thankful that our paths crossed. God put us in the position to meet when coaching colleagues of mine informed Coach Van about me and he trusted the coach and person I was during our interview. Coach got here in 2013, and after 1 season, I arrived to work with him. Our discipline, leadership, academics, standards, and level of play all rose because of his leadership, the good families we get to work with, and because of the good staff he put together here at Hutto. His biggest influence for his players and coaching staff was to have us all trust each other and “do what’s in your wheelhouse.” He wanted us all to be who we were and embrace that. Love that man.”
This will be Coach Laplante’s third coaching gig. Not much will change but he will get creative putting his players to make plays this upcoming season.
”Coach VanMeter and I worked side by side to instill our offensive philosophy, develop plays, and put our players in position to succeed. We lost 3 very good senior starters on offense. Other players will be asked to play an expanded role, some players may play both sides of the ball, and the experienced players coming back have great leadership to help out the new guys. As our team moves forward, we will be better because our defense continues to improve, and last spring ran to the ball really well. We don’t need to play mistake-free ball, but we hurt ourselves in the losses we had last year.”
A lot of that responsibility falls on junior quarterback Chase Griffin. Griffin recently committed to UCLA and looks to add to his resume this season. Making smart decisions and controlling the game is crucial for the quarterback to put points on the scoreboard. The past two seasons he has limited his mistakes committing less than ten interceptions in each of those seasons.
“Chase is the most complete QB on and off the field I have had the absolute pleasure to coach. Elite players make the other players better around them. His numbers, production, limit of turnovers won’t need to improve. His leadership, we expect, will rise to another level this year, and he will make other players around him better. For us to go deeper than we ever have, his checks at the line of scrimmage will need to be on point, and his ability to read the pocket pressure and get the ball out quickly will serve him well.”
It all starts in the off-season, practice, as well as the weight room. And it all starts with the coach.
“My vision for this season is to watch our players and see them play so hard, that I never have to question what the scoreboard says. The excitement level has to be high each and every day. Good, mature players understand that everything we do matters as a team, and everything we do is for the success of the team. I would love for our practice intensity to grow, and our football IQ to grow so we don’t understand just the play/coverage etc., but we understand the concept of it as a whole. We have had an awesome off-season. Our players have been hungry in the weight room, we did well in lineman challenges, our guys have shown out at camps, and we were very successful at 7 on 7. When our players work hard, positively affect the others around them, and play at their highest level, we are a tough group to beat.”
The Hippos open the season beginning with West Mesquite then go on to play Liberty Hill and Del Valle. Times are pretty exciting for the Hippo fans which expect a full house in every home game.
“As a head coach, my intention is to build on what our staff has been working on for 5 years. It’s a great time to be a Hutto Hippo, but we can still raise the bar in academics, recruiting, and our play. Our players have bought into #EverythingMatters!”
Everything will matter once they step on that field against Mesquite. One things for sure it all starts with their identity on both sides of the ball.
“Our style or brand of play won’t change, we may even try to play faster on offense. Defensively 2 big goals are to be better in 1 on 1 coverage situations and stop the big play. I truly believe teams will have a hard time moving the ball on our defense the length of the field without explosive plays.”
Everyone get ready. Central Texas high school football has come alive and is here to stay.
The Texas Sports Monthly PODCAST
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