Balue Chapman was wide eyed on the Hawk's practice field Wednesday as he stood in front of the camera for his first interview at Bozeman. Following a question he turned and looked at his coach who smiled and said, "Don't look at me, he asked you the question," before advising Chapman on how he should properly answer.
Chapman is only a sophomore but he has had to fill a big role following senior running back Hunter Gappmayer's cracked collarbone.
Chapman had been playing defensive end for the Bozeman Hawks prior to Gappymayers injury, but when that unfortunate injury occurred, he was ready.
Coach Purcell announced today that Gappmayer is not quite ready to return to the field which means it will be up to Chapman to lead the Hawk's rushing attack again this Friday.
"It hasn't been too tough a transition," said Chapman. "I played a little bit last year. That offensive line does a lot of work up front, so running behind them is not the most difficult job in the world."
It seemed like just another game for the Hawks three weeks prior. Gappmayer, who had been phenomenal through the first half of the season, had already rushed for two touchdowns in the first half of their game against Billings West. On his third touchdown, Gappmayer suffered a cracked collarbone and was seen heading into the locker room holding his arm. That meant someone would have to try and fill his shoes and that man was Chapman.
"He just jumped right into the spot," said Bozeman head coach Troy Purcell. "Balue is a tremendous athlete and Gappymayer's tremendous. He's was an all-state running back last year and an all-state kid this year."
Chapman seamlessly filled in the role and looked just like Gappmayer, rushing for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first game as the starting running back. Last Friday against Butte, he rushed for another 3 touchdowns.
Chapman still has two years left of high school and Purcell says he may play an even bigger role in the offense next season.
"He's a sophomore so the future looks bright," Purcell said. "He'll probably be the quarterback for the next couple years if he earns the position. We're very fortunate to have a guy like Chapman to be able to step into that role."
We'll see how Chapman performs in his first playoff game as the starting running back when the Hawks host Missoula Sentinel Friday.