County football teams set to kick off sea­son

Sea­son gets started tonight with re­match ver­sus Oxon Hill

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By COLIN STOECKER cstoecker@somd­news.com

Chop­ti­con head football coach An­thony Lisanti doesn’t sound too con­cerned when he talks about the se­nior play­ers that he lost from last sea­son to grad­u­a­tion be­cause he knows he has 15 se­niors on this year’s squad ready to take their place on the field for the 2018 cam­paign.

Lisanti is ex­cited for an­other year of Chop­ti­con football to be­gin, which is at 6:30 tonight at home ver­sus Oxon Hill of Prince Ge­orge’s County, as he again has set his ex­pec­ta­tions high from the very start of the sea­son.

“We have about 15 se­niors re­turn­ing,” said Lisanti, who is start­ing his 13th sea­son as head coach and his 30th sea­son with the pro­gram. “It’s usu­ally any­where from 12 to 20. We’ve got a lot of growth re­main­ing to do, but they’re a good group and they work hard. We hope to con­tinue the firm foun­da­tion of suc­cess that Chop­ti­con has es­tab­lished over the years.”

With such a deep ros­ter, Lisanti has the free­dom to move play­ers around and ex­periement with new line­ups.

“We had a few losses from last year un­for­tu­nately,” he said. “Nicholas Sny­der av­er­aged 16 tack­les a game plus he got nine touch­down passes. Von­tae Hof­fert, Austin Gre­gory led SMAC in rush­ing and he was one of the lead rush­ers in the state. An­thony Hunt at quar­ter­back and Isa­iah Smith played cor­ner and wide re­ceiver.”

This year, Lisanti has even more to be ex­cited about.

“We hope to con­tinue

that suc­cess from last year,” he said. “Trent Holton is a good ath­lete that we have at safety and wide re­ceiver. We have a cou­ple big line­men, An­drew Hei­der, David Mor­ton and Jared Sweitzer. We’re work­ing on de­vel­op­ing a few more. A cou­ple of those guys play de­fense, but they’re more of­fen­sive.”

Last year, Chop­ti­con went 8-2 over­all in the reg­u­lar sea­son be­fore los­ing in the open­ing round of the Class 3A South Re­gion play­offs to Oxon Hill 28-26.

Chop­ti­con and Oxon Hill faced off twice last year. The first en­counter saw the Braves edge Oxon Hill 35-32 in the sea­son opener, but Oxon Hill ended the Chop­ti­con’s sea­son in mid-Novem­ber.

Tonight the two teams meet again and many of the re­tun­ing Braves are ex­cited for this matchup.

“We have some unset­tled things that I would like to rec­tify this year,” said Mor­ton, a se­nior right tackle. “It feels good. It’s just been work­ing hard all sum­mer, and hope­fully it pays off this year. We went 8-2 and then we got kind of snuffed in a play­off game against Oxon Hill on a ques­tion­able call at the end. But I think we can make it back thee again this year and do bet­ter.”

Other re­turn­ing play­ers like Hei­der are also ex­cited to get back into the reg­u­lar sea­son con­tests.

“It will be nice play­ing Oxon Hill again af­ter that loss to them in the play- offs last year,” said Hei­der, a se­nior de­fen­sive tackle. “The last play they threw it up to the Penn State com­mit and he caught it and won. They’re like us, they have a lot of size on the line and a lot of skill play­ers, but we should be OK”

He added: “It’s been pretty good. We’re get­ting there. It took us a lit­tle while to get go­ing be­cause we lost a cou­ple peo­ple, but every­one is start­ing to kick into gear now that prac­tice has rolled around. This is the first day and it’s re­ally hot. But it’s been all right so far. Line­men-wise, we’ve just been run­ning drills like cor­rect the line­man.”

Still, with plenty of good com­pe­ti­tion to look for­ward to, many se­niors like Hei­der have their own goals for the sea­son.

“My line goal is to get back to a 1,000-yard rusher in the back field again like Austin Gre­gory did last year,” Hei­der said.

STAFF PHOTO BY COLIN STOECKER

Chop­ti­con head football coach An­thony Lisanti, who has been in the pro­gram for the past 30 years, en­ter­ing his 13th as head coach, has built a strong foun­da­tion for the pro­gram. The Braves have gone 8-2 in the reg­u­lar sea­son each of the last two sea­sons.

STAFF PHOTO BY COLIN STOECKER

The Chop­ti­con Braves prac­tice drills in­side in the gym on a hot day of pre­sea­son prac­tice. The team’s first game of the sea­son is tonight against Oxon Hill, who they beat once last sea­son and lost to nar­rowly in the play­offs.

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