Special to the Barrie Examiner
It would be hard to find an athlete who enjoys his sport more than Christian Hutter-Coppin.
“My dad introduced football to me when I was younger, I don’t really know anything different,” said the decorated defensive back.
After winning a Yates Cup with the Laurier Golden Hawks in his first season of university football, the Barrie native wasn’t ready to turn in his cleats until the fall just yet.
Having spent the last decade playing for the Huronia Stallions, Hutter-Coppin had his sights set on a different trophy, and so the talented player opted to return to the Barrie gridiron for a final campaign.
“There’s not too many guys who, when they have four more years of university and their university coach tells them it’s probably not a good idea to play in the summer, they turn to their coach and say, ‘I’ve played 10 years of Stallions, I’m not, not going to play my final year,'” said Stallions defensive co-ordinator Matt Gordon.
The Stallions finished with an impressive 5-1, but their regular season success didn’t translate into the playoffs, as they were upset by the Sault Ste. Marie Sabercats 14-10 last weekend.
It was an earlier exit than Hutter-Coppin would have preferred, but now he can re-focus on his upcoming Laurier season.
The agile defensive player was a key member of the Yates Cup champion Golden Hawks last season, he was even recognized as the team’s Rookie of The Year.
“I went to Laurier not expecting to play at all for my first two years, all I heard was it’s just a whole other level. I went in at 5’8″, 175 lbs.,” said Hutter-Coppin. “To go into our first preseason game and get an interception… as the season progressed, I got more comfortable.”
By the end of the season, Hutter-Coppin was getting significant playing time off the bench, something unheard of for most university football rookies.
“He’s physically gifted, so he’s going to make plays that others aren’t and so you give him a chance in a game, he does the same thing,” said Gordon, who has been coaching football for 15 seasons.
If you include all of the years Hutter-Coppin played for Eastview’s football team at high school, he’s suited up for about around 15 seasons himself.
In this recent Stallions year, Hutter-Coppin’s football experience was certainly noticeable.
“He’s a second coach on the field, directing traffic and helping the younger guys adjust to the speed and the differences in the game. The other thing it brings is the flexibility he has, compared to someone who doesn’t have as much experience,” said Gordon, praising his defensive captain Hutter-Coppin. “He’s made a lot of plays this year where he’s not in a position he’s designed to be but he just read the play.”
There’s not many plays Hutter-Coppin hasn’t seen on a football field before, but to be a part of the Golden Hawks Vanier Cup winning-season last year ranks pretty high on his list of surprising events.
Laurier trailed Western by 21 points with over 8 minutes to play in the final quarter of the Yates Cup and rallied for a thrilling 43-40 win. The Golden Hawks fourth quarter comeback was the largest in the 109 years of the Yates Cup.
Laurier went on to lose their Vanier Cup qualifying game to the eventual champion Laval Rouge et Or.
Hutter-Coppin will still have the same two seniors in front of him at the cornerback positions this coming fall, so the undersized defensive back will have to prove himself yet again.
“My first year I got a bit stronger, but as I did that my mass got bigger and I got slower, so I just want to get faster,” said Hutter-Coppin.
“I don’t expect anything less next season. I want a Vanier to be honest,” he added.
Whether Hutter-Coppin wins a Canadian football championship at Laurier or not, if he can keep improving, the CFL (Canadian Football League) doesn’t appear to be out of reach.
“We just saw Danny Vandervoort, a former Stallion, go in the top three in the draft. Vandervoort was a stand-out and an unbelievable player. I say it’s rare, but his first year (at McMaster) was also very similar to Christian’s,” said coach Gordon. “But Vandervoort didn’t stop there, he improved every year, and I think Christian has that same drive.”