HAMDEN >> It’s already been a record-setting season for Hamden Hall. The Hornets now get a chance to chase a little more history Friday night when it faces Berkshire Academy.
Hamden Hall will attempt to complete the first unbeaten regular season in school history. Kickoff is set for 6 in Hamden.
“You don’t have many times in your life when you can have a significant accomplishment,” Hamden Hall coach Joe Linta said. “I think they’re going to look back when they’re old like me and they’re going to remember that. It’s the making of the memories, and that camaraderie that we’ve all gotten, and the closeness of the team and the fun that we’ve had. It’s so special for the school and all these kids to be in this position.”
The Hornets have already set the school record for wins (9) in a season, which they did in a 49-20 victory over Canterbury on Nov. 4. Hamden Hall (9-0) clinched the Fairchester League title with a 34-0 win over previously unbeaten Rye in October.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Hamden Hall junior quarterback Luke Schoonmaker said. “We’ve had a great season so far, it’s because of a lot of hard work every week. We’re looking to finish out strong and undefeated.”
The Hornets will then compete in a New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) bowl game against an opponent to be determined after the league committee meets on Sunday. Hamden Hall is 0-2 in bowl games during Linta’s tenure.
Coming into the year, Linta thought it could be a special season. The Hornets went 8-2 last year and returned such standouts as senior receiver Corey Millhouse and senior running back Justice Antrum. The one question mark was at quarterback. That problem was solved when Schoonmaker (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) and sophomore Nick Bailey (6-1, 175) transferred in from Xavier and Hopkins, respectively.
“We came in this year not knowing who the quarterback was going to be and two landed in my lap,” Linta said. “Nick is a more technically sound quarterback and Luke is just a freak, phenomenal athlete, and we’ve played them both. They always say if you have two quarterbacks, you have none. Well, it’s not worked out that way for us. We’ve been very pleased with both of them.”
Schoonmaker, while at Xavier, lacerated his spleen and missed most of last season. He then transferred to Hamden Hall and reclassified as a junior. Reclassification is not allowed at a CIAC member school like Xavier.
“I’d say it’s huge getting that extra year, both academically and athletically,” Schoonmaker said. “Being able to have it, and focus on thing that I could do better that I couldn’t do with my injury, I think really helped.”
Bailey has completed 30 of 49 passes for 713 yards and 10 touchdowns while Schoonmaker has connected on 42 of 71 attempts for 664 yards and three touchdowns. Millhouse (22 catches, 563 yards, six touchdowns) and junior David Spitz (22-421-5) have been the Hornets’ top receivers, while senior Cam Krannich and junior Mike Gulia also contribute at receiver.
Antrum (5-9, 190) has rushed 76 times for 870 yards and 18 touchdowns. Linta said Antrum runs a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash.
“How hard he’s worked, and his speed,” said Linta about the traits that make Antrum a gifted runner. “And his vision, you can’t teach that. This kid is special. He’s got a burst, and he’s got the ability to make that one cut and go. The kids that are special are the ones who do things that you can’t teach.”
Junior linebacker A.J. Repollet (5-11, 230) leads the team with 66 tackles and five sacks.
“He’s just a wrecking machine,” Linta said. “The burst, the explosion and power, you could just see what he’s going to be, and he’s got another year. I’m really excited to see what he’s going to be when he gets out of here.”