Chapman boys tough to move on the lineBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
The two biggest players on Oak Ridge’s football roster are the Chapman twins: Joe and Jason.
Joe, the older of the two, is 6-4, 290 pounds, while his brother Jason is 6-3, 270 pounds. Joe is the starter at right tackle, while Jason starts at left tackle. There’s no denying they’ve played a huge role in the success of the offense, opening up holes for running backs Blake Martin (864 yards, 11 TDs) and Josh Wellman (840 yards, 11 TDs), as well as protecting quarterback Jason Samuels (2,147 yards, 24 touchdowns) with the help of the interior linemen, center Kareem Ballal and guards Jacob Proul and Cory Gregersen.
“They’re three-year starters and super-nice kids,” Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere said of the Chapman’s. “It’s been fun to watch them grow. They’ve really come out of their shell this year and have shown their personalities. Physically, they’re very big and strong and for kids their size, they’re pretty athletic. They work very hard.”
Like many twins, the Chapman brothers are close and when you seen one, you normally see the other.
“We’ve got a special bond,” Joe said. “Where ever we go we’re always together.”
Some twins are bound to fight once in awhile, but the Chapman’s get along pretty well. Jason admitted he’s smarter than his brother and Joe was good with that.
“He’s smarter school wise, but on the football field it’s me,” Joe said.
While Joe said Jason has a nicer personality and is always apologizing to people, Jason said Joe is the mean one. Joe is stronger of the two, Jason admits, while Jason said he’s quicker than his brother.
The Chapman boys got their start in football as eighth graders when they played on the Jr. Trojan midget team before moving on to high school. The boys weren’t quite as big then, but at 5-9 and around 200 pounds, the two were still linemen.
“All our friends said we should play football, so we did and I didn’t think we were that good,” Jason said. “Then we grew and got bigger and that made us better.”
Jason played tight end as a freshman at Oak Ridge but that didn’t last long.
“I didn’t like it,” Jason said. “I couldn’t catch the ball.”
The brothers are inseparable off the field and until this year were inseparable on it. Jason started at guard next to his brother as a sophomore and junior on the varsity team before being moved to left tackle for this season.
“When I was at guard, I wouldn’t have to talk because Joe would know what I was going to do,” Jason said. “I liked playing strong guard next to him. It took me awhile to get used to left tackle. I struggled at first and then I got it together. Joe helped me the shorter steps and blocking technique.”
Joe added, “Playing next to Jason was the greatest thing, but I’m used to him being over on the other side now.”
The coaching staff made the move to balance the line.
“We wanted to be able to run the ball to the left and to the right,” Cavaliere said. “We wanted to have a good strong edge on the left side so we moved Jason over there and we’ve done a great job running the ball this season.”
The Chapman’s are enjoying their senior year and have helped lead the Trojans to the Division I semifinal where they will play Burbank at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Both enjoy their teammates and hope this year ends with a section championship.
“I feel this year’s team knows each other better and is just more together than last year’s team,” Jason said.
Joe added, “I’m only thinking one game at a time. This team is a brotherhood and has a special bond. We played Burbank last year and the game this year should be a good one.”
After graduating in the spring, the Chapman’s will go on a two-year Mormon mission before furthering their education and hopefully playing more football again.
Being apart from each other for two years won’t be easy, but the brothers hope to go to school together when they return.
“I was away in Tonga for six months freshman year and I felt alone without Joe,” said Jason, whose mother is from the island in the South Pacific. “I think the Mormon mission will be a struggle to be away from him for that long.”
Joe added, “We’ll end up together in school. I can’t see us going to different places.”