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Football: Longmont linebacker Chacon leads defense
Football: Longmont linebacker Chacon leads defense

LONGMONT — Chris Chacon possesses all of the characteristics of a typical linebacker. The Trojans senior has a bit of a nasty streak, he is aggressive and likes to drop the hammer on the field, and he is intense but preternaturally composed off of it.

Another factor, however, sets him apart, not only among other linebackers in Class 4A but also among those who have come through Longmont in the past decade.

He loves practice.

Every player lives for game day, but Chacon understands better than most that the work that gets done during the week connects directly to the mood of the bus ride home after the game is over.

“Winning is going to take care of itself if you do all the little things right,” he said after one of the last practices before Monday’s season-opener. “If you prepare mentally and practice perfectly, do the pre-game right, all of that is going to get you a win. You don’t have to worry about the scoreboard if you do that stuff the right way.”

And like the best linebackers at any level, Chacon is fearless.

“You can’t be afraid of anybody. Six-foot-6, 300 pounds — I don’t care,” he said. “You have to do your thing on every play.”

If Chacon sounds like a coach’s dream, he is.

Doug Johnson has seen plenty of top-notch talent come through Longmont in the 10 years he’s led the program. In that period, the Trojans have reached the postseason seven times and played in the 2009 title game. He knows a true player when he sees one.

“He’s got a chance to be the best linebacker we’ve had since I’ve been here, and we’ve had some unbelievable guys,” Johnson said. “He likes practice, he’s totally loyal to his teammates and he has an amazing knack for the ball.”

Chacon, 6-foot and 180 pounds, returns for his second season as a varsity starter to lead an experienced, tight-knit and very similar corps of linebackers.

Tyler DeBarris and Tyson Tovar hold down the outside and Isaac Sprecher joins Chacon on the inside, and each has started at least five games. Sophomore Joe Lopez also figures to get some time at the position. This is a group that watches out for one another as well as the rest of the Trojans, and they all believe that taking one play off during a game is one play too many.

“All of us play for each other and we go as hard as we can all the time,” Sprecher said. “Nothing too special. We just go 100 miles per hour and love hitting and being really aggressive.”

Chacon, a three-sport athlete who wrestles and plays baseball, echoed that statement and added an exclamation point to it.

“We are going to be good. We attack the ball and we’re a mean, nasty bunch. We are going to hit people in the mouth,” he said. “We just go out there each and every game and kick people in the butt.”

He has shouldered the burden of being a go-to leader for Longmont, and he relishes that role. He is the one keeping the intensity high during practice and games, pumping up and pushing his teammates. His energy is contagious and he can inspire those around him just by doing what comes naturally.

“He is a really strong leader. I really admire his character,” Sprecher said. “He is very fast and plays with a lot of heart, going all out all the time.

“Just like our defense.”

Brady Delander can be reached at bdelander@times-call.com.

LONGMONT TROJANS

Coach: Doug Johnson, 10th year (76-46 record)

Last year: 7-5, 4-2 in Northern Conference; lost in quarterfinals round of 4A state playoffs

Returning starters: David Barnard (Sr., OL, 6-2, 240); Cole Burch (Sr., RB, 5-11, 185); Chris Chacon (Sr., LB, 6-0, 180); Tyler DeBarris (Sr., LB, 5-10, 180); D.J. Fowler (Sr., RB, 5-11, 180); Braden Hitchcock (Sr., RB/DB, 5-11, 150); Jordan Johnson (Sr., RB/DB, 5-10, 175); Marcus Johnson (Jr., OL, 6-2, 260); Drew Magee (Jr., DB, 5-11, 175); Conner McIntosh (So., DL, 6-2, 255); Ian Pomper (Jr., LB, 5-10, 170); Isaac Sprecher (Jr., LB, 6-3, 200); Tyson Tovar (Sr., LB, 6-1, 200); Forrest Wetterstrom (Jr., QB, 6-3, 180).

Others to watch: Jordan Bohms (Sr., DB, 5-10, 180); Josh Cogdill (Sr., WR, 6-2, 185); Chris Palacios (Jr., OL/DL, 6-1, 255); Danny Robinson (Sr., RB, 5-9, 170).

College prospects: Barnard, Chacon, J. Johnson, M. Johnson, Tovar, Wetterstrom.

Must-see game: Oct. 21 at Broomfield

Strengths: The Trojans enter the season ranked No. 4 in 4A, and for good reason. A wave of experienced starters return, most notably on defense, and the offense should be able to balance the run and pass with quality play at quarterback. There are several talented running backs and a notable new addition at receiver with Cogdill, a basketball standout.

Weaknesses: The offensive line will have to fill in a bit following last season’s senior class, and the team as a whole needs to quickly kick into football gear. The first three games, just like last year, will be played in 11 days, and the schedule features some very tough opponents.

SCHEDULE

Aug. 29 — ARVADA WEST, 7 p.m.

Sept. 2 — at Skyline, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 — at Standley Lake, 6 p.m.

Sept. 16 — WHEAT RIDGE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 — GREELEY CENTRAL, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 — at Thompson Valley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7 — NIWOT, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 — at Greeley West, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 — at Broomfield, 7 p.m.

Oct. 27 — LOVELAND, 7 p.m.

Note: Home games in all caps; home stadium is Everly-Montgomery Field