By Doug Chapin
When most people think of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, they don’t think of football.
They might have heard of its world-renowned hospital, the medical research carried on at the school, or — if asked about athletics — they may know the Blue Jays won NCAA Division I lacrosse national titles in 2005 and 2007.
Cardinal Mooney graduate Frank Colaprete, the defensive coordinator for the Johns Hopkins football team, is helping to establish the Jays as a power in Division III football circles.
His team can make a big jump in that regard on Saturday when Hopkins travels to Alliance to face the University of Mount Union in the second round of the NCAA D-III football playoffs.
“We started to hit our stride in 2002,” Colaprete said about his second season on the coaching staff when the Blue Jays put together a 9-2 season. “The kids are starting to recognize that our athletic teams and our football is getting pretty good and we’re getting kids from all over the country.”
Hopkins is 91-30 since 2002 with four NCAA playoff appearances, including a 42-10 first-round victory last week over Washington & Jefferson from Washington, Pa.
Colaprete, who is a 1996 graduate of John Carroll University and earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Kent State University, has coached at Johns Hopkins from 2001-06 and from 2010 to the present.
He was on the staff at Georgetown from 2007-09. He was defensive coordinator the final two years of his first stint with the Jays and resumed the same role when he returned.
Johns Hopkins has plenty of prestige in educational circles and, according to Colaprete, that helps on the recruiting trail.
“The academics are a huge draw. It is a very selective university and we look for a specific type of student-athlete,” he said. “At the same time it is Johns Hopkins. A lot of kids who look to play at an Ivy League-type school realize they can get as good or better and education and still play high-quality football. It has been a huge draw for us.”
Mount Union, which blasted Christopher Newport, 72-14, last week, sits near the pinnacle of Division III football. The Purple Raiders have won 10 national titles since 1993 and failed to make it to the championship game in just four — 1994, ‘95, ‘99, ‘04 — of those 19 seasons.
“Everyone who plays D-3 football recognizes the name of Mount Union. They present huge challenges,” Colaprete said. “They are the number one team in the country for a reason. They are extremely talented and well coached.”
The challenge of facing the Purple Raiders, plus the fact he will be coming home has Colaprete looking forward to the weekend.
“Of course, I have lots of family and friends coming to the game, it’s exciting,” he said. “I can’t wait for the homecoming. The kids here know, they are a bunch of smart guys, and they are letting me have it.”
If the Hopkins defense is able to let Mount Union have it, then Colaprete will have an even better Thanksgiving weekend homecoming.