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There when you need him

More often than not, Hernando's locker room has resembled a triage tent this season.

There are weeks coach Bill Browning doesn't know which players will be available until pregame warmups. But there is one thing he knows for sure.

Home or away, rain or shine, win or lose, Addison Chipoletti will be in the lineup. Usually on both sides of the ball.

"He's extremely valuable in that element, because he's one that you can count on being there on Friday night," Browning said. "His durability has been a big asset."

In this, of all seasons, its importance cannot be overstated.

Hernando lost defensive back Chris Cresser in the offseason to injuries suffered in a car accident. Wide receiver Mozell Elder sustained a season-ending knee injury. Running backs Rod Roberts and Jagren Castillo have been out.

Linemen James Johnson, Kris Davis and Tank Donaldson also have missed action because of injuries.

Enter Chipoletti. The 6-foot, 185-pound junior started the season as a tight end and defensive end but switched positions (tight end to tackle) and uniform numbers (85 to 62) after Johnson injured a knee.

Chipoletti played well enough to keep his spot even after Johnson returned. Johnson filled in for Donaldson at center two weeks ago and replaced Davis at the opposite tackle last week.

"Addison's a very hard-working kid," offensive/defensive line coach Matt Smith said. "His technique has improved each and every week. He's durable, he's strong and he has a motor that just will not stop."

Chipoletti played what Browning and Smith called his best game of the season in Friday's 42-24 loss to perennial power South Sumter. Chipoletti had 11 tackles and a quarterback pressure and helped clear the way for 266 rushing yards.

"It felt like he was all over the field," Smith said. "He was making tackles and was forcing their speed to come back inside to help our pursuit make the plays."

Despite Chipoletti's efforts, the Leopards were eliminated from playoff contention.

"That game was the hardest game I've ever played," Chipoletti said. "I knew we had to do it or we weren't in the playoffs. Coach made that clear. I knew what I had to do to my fullest potential, and I did it."

Chipoletti also knows how to stay on the field, crediting offseason work in the weight room.

"I think the most important thing about staying healthy is lifting weights," Chipoletti said. "I try to lift a lot so you do not get those sprained ankles or pulled hamstrings. My key is just to lift a lot, and it helps me."

Wrestling hasn't hurt, either.

The balance, toughness and confidence Chipoletti picked up on the mat en route to the Class A 171-pound state championship last season translates to football.

"The biggest thing about Addison going into games is he knows that he's going to be in a battle," said Smith, Hernando's wrestling coach.

Just as important, Chipoletti emerges unscathed, ready for the next one.

_ Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1430. Send e-mail to pastorsptimes.com.

Aptly named

A few of the words that can be created by scrambling the letters in Addison Chipoletti's name:

Adept

Addition

Chase

Chip

D-line

End

Hit

Intact

No stop

Polite

Potent

Shone

Solid

_ Compiled by Frank Pastor.

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