Matt Chapp’s athletic ability has never been in question. The biggest concern has been just keeping him on the field. A two-sport athlete (football, track) at Riverside-Brookfield High School, Chapp missed the majority of last year’s football season due to a broken left ankle he endured in practice. When he played youth football for the Berywn Mustangs, Chapp also fractured his collarbone.
“It was a freak injury during practice,” Chapp said about his ankle. “When I went to make a tackle, I planted my foot weird and the minute I tackled the kid, I felt something was wrong. I sat on the sideline and it started to hurt more. As soon as they took my shoe off, my foot and ankle didn’t look good so we decided I needed to see the doctor soon.
“The injuries I’ve had have kind of just been bad luck, but it’s been humbling. I feel great now and I’m more focused than ever.”
When Chapp broke his left ankle on Sep. 11, 2013, his physical therapist estimated a recovery time of six months.
Three months after surgery, Chapp was back in action as a state qualifier on the 1,600-meter relay for the RBHS track team.
“I was very determined to come back as soon as possible and be around the guys,” he said. “I was very happy with the way I was able to bounce back from injury.”
The Riverside resident’s speedy recovery and success during the track season has carried over to the gridiron this fall.
Over the last two weeks, Chapp has been the Bulldogs’ exclusive source for scoring. He returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown (along with 11 carries, 73 yards; four catches, 20 yards) in a 33-7 loss to St. Edward on Friday. In Week 2, Chapp raced 95 yards to pay dirt in a 49-6 loss against host Nazareth.
In the season opener, Chapp ran 13 times for 66 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards as the Bulldogs rolled to a 22-0 victory over Morton.
His overall athletic ability and speed (Chapp has clocked a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash) have attracted recruiting interest. Concordia University in River Forest and Robert Morris University, among others, are possible destinations for Chapp. He would like to compete in both football and track in college.
Last season, Justin Agne assumed the role of taking on multiple positions for the Bulldogs. Chapp who plays running back, slot receiver, punt/kickoff returner and punter has assumed that responsibility this year.
“I like playing different positions and think I’m well suited for it,” Chapp said. “We have been performing pretty well. We just need to do a better job of finishing drives. A real positive about our team is our attitude. Win or lose, there’s a sense of brotherhood and accountability among the players.
“Nobody is out there trying to do his own thing. I think that’s because of the kind of program Coach [Brendan] Curtin has established. I always tell him that he’s changed the program for the better because of the bond among the players.”
Another special relationship Chapp shares is with his father, Eddie, who is the owner/assistant coach of the Riverside-based Chicago Mustangs semi-pro football team. Eddie coached his son during some of the latter’s youth football days.
“I developed my love for the game of football through my dad,” Chapp said. “He’s great at knowing how to balance being my dad and my football coach.”
The rest of Chapp’s family includes his mom, Gina, and siblings, Jordan (younger brother) and Madeline (older sister).
The Bulldogs host Walther Christian Academy on Friday, Sep. 19 (7:15 p.m. kickoff). It will be interesting to see if Chapp can score another touchdown on a long kickoff return for the third week in a row.
Then again, Chapp’s not too concerned about scoring. He’s just happy to be back out on the field.