Longwell concentrates on changing Capital’s momentum
Chase Longwell takes off against Ohio Northern on Sept. 28.
It could be very easy for Chase Longwell to get discouraged. In the Hilliard Darby High School graduate’s first eight games as quarterback for the Capital University football team, the Crusaders have lost as many games as the Panthers did in the last three years of Longwell’s career there. As Capital (1-7 overall, 1-6 in the Ohio Athletic Conference) gets ready to take on Muskingum University on Saturday, the freshman refuses to give up. “Things are starting to turn around here,” says Longwell, who completed five of 10 passes for 32 yards and rushed nine times for six yards in a 19-14 loss to rival Otterbein on Nov. 2. “(Coach Craig) Candeto keeps talking about ‘Changing Momentum.’ We need to take all the bad stuff that has happened in the past and just really change it around for the better. We need to keep pushing forward.” As the only freshman starting at quarterback in the 10-team OAC, Longwell completed 34 of his 69 passing attempts (49.3 percent) for 442 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions and is the team’s second leading rusher with 398 yards and two touchdowns on 129 carries. The Crusaders came up six points short of ending their current six-game slide against Otterbein. Brent Walton scored on a 6-yard touchdown run with 9:36 left to play in the game to cut Capital’s deficit to 16-14. However the Cardinals went on a 13-play, 6:04 drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal by Alana Gaither with 3:26 left to play. The Crusaders were stopped on a fourth and 1 at the Otterbein 35 with less than a minute to play. Capital closes out the season against visiting Muskingum (1-7 overall) on Saturday and Wilmington (0-8) on Nov. 16. The Muskies, sixth in the league in scoring defense (30.1), are allowing 214.9 yards through the air and 134.9 yards on the ground per game. Wilmington dwells near the bottom of most of the OAC’s defensive categories including scoring defense (ninth allowing 49.3 points per game), pass defense (ninth, 240.6 yards) and rush defense (seventh, 225.4). Longwell has been a part of turning programs around before. His freshman year at Darby, the Panthers sputtered to a 3-6 finish. Over the next three years, Darby went 26-7overall, including an 11-1 finish Longwell’s senior year, and made the Division I Region 3 playoffs in 2010 and 2012. Longwell played safety all four years and after serving as a backup quarterback his first two years, took over as the starting quarterback his junior year. He completed 97 of 165 passes for 1,551 yards with 17 touchdowns with three interceptions and rushed for 1,574 yards and 25 touchdowns on 277 carries his junior and senior years. “Chase is a tremendous competitor. Whenever we needed a yard, Chase Longwell got the ball,” Panthers coach John Santagata says. “While at Darby, Chase demonstrated a great work ethic in practices, the weight room, and the classroom. He was a special type of leader who commanded respect naturally. (It was) never forced. His teammates always listened when he spoke as he commanded our offensive huddle.” “Playing at Darby definitely helped prepare me,” Longwell adds. “My coaches were great; they harped on discipline, discipline, discipline. That is one of the things (Candeto), coming from the U.S. Naval Academy, preaches all the time.” Longwell was set to attend Georgetown College in Kentucky when Capital hired Candeto as its head coach. Candeto, who rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards as a quarterback his senior year with Navy in 2003, eventually convinced Longwell to sign with Capital. “I actually verbally committed to Georgetown but coach Candeto came around and changed my mind,” Longwell says. “I really liked everything he was about and what he stood for and what he had planned for this program.” Longwell found out there’s huge different between high school and college football in the first few weeks of the Crusaders’ practices. The speed of the game is light years ahead of high school. “Those first couple days of practices were definitely an eye opener,” says Longwell, who is majoring in nursing. “In high school, I was completely used to the speed of the game (at that level). Then all of sudden I’m stepping in and competing with all these other guys who were used to how fast the game is.” Longwell didn’t see much playing time in a 20-0 loss to Thomas More in the Sept. 7 opener, throwing just one pass (an incompletion) and rushing six times for 19 yards. A week later, he emerged as the starter in the Crusaders’ 42-13 win at Marietta on Sept. 21. The 5-foot-10, 191-pound freshman completed seven of 12 passes for 150 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards including a 1-yard touchdown run on 21 carries. “It was such a good feeling in the locker room after we came away with the victory,” Longwell says. Since the Sept. 21 win, the Crusaders have been trying to recapture that feeling. The month of October was particularly ruthless to Capital. It didn’t help that the Crusaders’ faced three teams ranked in the top 15 of the Division III poll released on Oct. 28, including top-ranked Mount Union (currently 8-0 overall), ninth-ranked Heidelberg (7-1) and 15th ranked John Carroll (8-0). Capital was outscored 185-20 in a 54-0 loss at John Carroll on Oct. 5, a 73-17 loss at Heidelberg on Oct. 12 and 58-3 loss to Mount Union on Oct. 19. Longwell says the team is trying to learn from its losses. “The losses have been learning experiences for us,” Longwell said. “We learned from (the lopsided losses) even though they weren’t great games for us.” Longwell says he would like to see his team play at the level of a Mount Union. The Purple Raiders are to Division III what Alabama is to Division I. Since 2005, Mount Union is 115-5 with eight OAC titles and four national titles. Four out of their five losses have come in the Stagg Bowl, the Division III national title game. The Purple Raiders’ last league setback was a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in 2005. “They played at a different level than what we were used to. The first thing we noticed is they did their assignments to perfection,” Longwell says. “To beat teams like that, you have to be perfect at everything you do. “Those guys come into the game expecting to win every single game. That’s something we can take as a program and put that with what we have to do in the future.”
Chase Longwell, shown here throwing a pass against Thomas More (Ky.) game on Sept. 7, says he has had to adjust to the speed of the college game. Photos (2) by Jeff Mills/Capital University Athletics.

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