Football truly is a family affair for 65-year-old Ken LaChapelle, now in his 38th year as head coach at Northbridge (Whitinsville, Mass.).
The Rams launched their season last Friday by beating Oakmont Regional (Ashburnham, Mass.) 42-20 for his 307th career victory and a new star was born.
His grandson, 5-foot-10, 155-pound sophomore quarterback Koby Schofer, made a varsity debut for the ages by running for 150 yards and four touchdowns and passing for an additional 87 yards (7-12). He set the tone by scoring the first three touchdowns.
LaChapelle told USA Today, “I had two emotions – one as a coach and one as a grandfather. They sort of come together. I knew he was a good little player, but a performance like that was awesome. We tend not to let our quarterback run so much.
“I’ve had three of my boys play for me and one grandson (Koby is the second grandson). I just let them be the best they can. I didn’t even ask him if he was nervous. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in his ability. He is really smart. One thing I had to get on him a little about being more verbal in the huddle.”
Schofer, who was a team waterboy at age three, admitted, “I wasn’t expecting to start, but I knew I had a chance. It felt good, it felt crazy because I had been watching all these years. I was never expecting to run for four touchdowns (two was his career high at any level) because our offense is 80 percent passing.”
His big offensive line gave him plenty of protection, although he was sacked twice. Even then he showed great maturity when he said, “It was my fault. I should have audibled out of it. It feels great to win for my grandpa, the town and the team.”
LaChapelle is closing in on the state record, which is 316 victories by legendary Brockton coach Armond Columbo. A serious heart condition kept him off the field during most of his final season, but his son, Peter, won seven games in his place. Some sources recognize those wins and give Columbo 323.
John Gillis of the National High School Federation says that a coach must be on the field for each victory and the Federation does not recognize those extra seven wins.
LaChapelle says, “My intent is to at least follow my grandson through the next three years so we can get enough (wins) so there is no question. We never talk about it. I feel funny talking about it.”
Meanwhile LaChapelle will seek victory No. 308 Friday at Tantasqua Regional (Fiskdale, Mass.).
The veteran coach concedes his grandson, who is the Rams’ second-fastest player, may be a marked man, “but you still gotta catch him.”
New Alabama record
Buddy Anderson became the first Alabama football coach to win 300 games at the same school when Vestavia Hills defeated Birmingham Huffman 30-8 on Thursday.
Mueller notches No. 300
Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.) defeated John Hardin (Elizabethtown, Ky.) 33-26 on Saturday to give coach Dale Mueller his 300th football win. Now in his 29th season, he has lost just 65 times.
No. 200 for George Smith
George Smith became the 21st Western Pennsylvania football coach to win 200 games when McKeesport defeated Norwin (North Huntington, Pa.) 28-7 on Friday.
Hurst is Mississippi king
Bill Hurst broke the Mississippi record for career football wins with No. 347 on Friday when Centreville Academy defeated Parklane Academy (McComb, Miss.) 36-17.. He also has won eight state titles.
Fitch sets Michigan record
Brendon Fitch passed for a Michigan state-record 603 yards as Swartz Creek outlasted Flint Kearsley 77-61. He completed 26 of 41 passes, six for touchdowns. Three receivers had over 100 yards.
Barnes wins No. 303
In a clash of California’s No. 1 and 2 top active football winners, John Barnes gained his 303rd victory as Los Alamitos edged Charter Oak (Covina) and longtime friend Lou Farrar 27-24.
Super rivalry draws 19,287
In, perhaps, the nation’s greatest football rivalry, Jenks (Okla) nipped Union (Tulsa, Okla.) 20-16 on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Cooper Nunley to Dylan Harding with 25 seconds left. A crowd of 19,287 got more than its money’s worth.
Another Newsome record
Senior Arkeel Newsome eclipsed another Connecticut state record when he ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns as Ansonia routed Torrington 52-7. The 5-8, 180-pound University of Connecticut recruit now has a state-record 758 career points and has a shot at the career rushing record, too.
Young star transfers
A varsity track and cross country star since she was a sixth grader, Daesha Rogers has transferred from American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) to Jackson (Miami, Fla.). Rogers, who already has won four state titles and set several national AAU records, finished fourth in her first varsity cross country meet as a freshman.
LoVett changes schools
Blue-chip junior guard Marcus LoVett, who averaged 32.4 points during the previous two years, has transferred from Providence (Burbank, Calif.) to San Gabriel Academy (San Gabriel, Calif.).