Millis-Hopedale Grid Captain

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Crepeau Overcomes Injury, Leads in Classy Fashion
Issue Date: 
November, 2016
Article Body: 

It’s unusual for a football player to miss an entire season, then be chosen as a captain. Hopedale’s Gerry Crepeau, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing varsity lacrosse, missed his entire junior year of football.
He may have been absent on the gridiron, but he was very visible on the sidelines for game day. He also attended all practices, team meetings, and film sessions. His commitment and devotion to the Millis-Hopedale program didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates. When it came time to choose captains for the 2016 season, Crepeau was selected.
“I was honored and surprised,’’ he said. “We have so many good players and good leaders. To be chosen as a captain was very humbling, because I didn’t play one snap as a junior.’’
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Crepeau seemed like he was well on his way to becoming an all-star lineman when he took over as a starting left tackle halfway through his soph season. His first start was dynamic. “I did well in a big win,’’ he recalled. “We were playing Dover-Sherborn and I blocked effectively and opened some holes. Two of our touchdowns were run off left tackle.’’
Crepeau started in Millis-Hopedale’s loss to Cohasset in the Sectional final in 2014 but that contest was his last competitive outing for awhile. Playing defense in a lacrosse match against St. Bernard’s, he stepped awkwardly and his knee buckled.
“I just took a bad step, and my knee gave out,’’ he said. “I remember how sharp the pain was. I saw an orthopedic doctor and an MRI showed a torn ACL. I had surgery a month later.’’
Crepeau’s rehab lasted 12 months before he felt comfortable. After a brief time on crutches and wearing a brace, he endured some long, hard months of physical therapy. Weightlifting, range of motion exercises and running consumed much of his time. He was disappointed but he never was down and out.
“I felt badly that I couldn’t contribute,’’ Crepeau said. “A few times, I questioned why the injury occurred, but I got over it, realizing that if I stayed positive, I’d return to football quicker. My main goal was to play my senior year.’’
Mission accomplished.
Crepeau now starts at right guard on offense and he also competes at defensive tackle. His coach, Dana Olson, is a big fan of Crepeau’s work ethic and ability. “Gerry isn’t flashy,’’ Olson said. “He’s a lunch-pail type of kid who gets the job done. His technical skills are very good, he’s smart and he’s a quality leader.’’
Helping Millis-Hopedale compile a 4-2 record at Local Town Pages deadline, Crepeau relies on a variety of key attributes that make him extremely dependable. “My strengths are quickness, my work ethic, run-blocking and technical skills — like the proper footwork and hand placement,’’ he noted. On defense, I rely on speed, lateral movement and pursuit. Mental toughness and knowing my assignments precisely can improve my play at guard, and getting stronger and being able to read and react are areas where I can be better on defense. I always try to be aggressive, which can offset any deficiency.’’
One of Crepeau’s team goals — winning the Tri Valley League Small Division crown — is close to being realized. He’s also focused on getting past the Sectional final. “We’ve lost three straight years in the Sectional final,’’ he said. “We can get to the Super Bowl and we can win it. That goal is realistic because we’ve got talent. We just can’t get overconfident.’’
Crepeau is also bullish on the Mohawks other captains — linebacker Jack Moriarity, two-way lineman Dan Fallon and wideout/defensive back P.J. Adams. “They work hard, they’re tough, they know how to finish plays and how to lead,’’ Crepeau emphasized. “We all try to be role models for younger players by doing the right thing.’’
Crepeau also has high praise for Olson. “He knows the game and he’s a terrific motivator,’’ Crepeau said. “He stresses work ethic, technique and physical toughness. He’s pushed me to be a better player.’’
Vice president of the National Honor Society, Crepeau is a straight-A student who plans on majoring in finance at a college like Northeastern or Bryant. As for football at the intercollegiate level, he’s “open-minded’’ about his future.
One thing he’s sure of, however, is his competitive philosophy. He plays to win, to go all out in reaching his potential and to enjoy whatever sport he’s involved in. Crepeau has competed in track for four seasons in the shot put, and he’s had two seasons of lacrosse where he’s also been a captain.
“Sports teach real-life lessons,’’ Crepeau noted. “You learn leadership and the value of teamwork. Athletics played a role in my rehab. Sports teach you how to overcome adversity and bounce back.
Crepeau, who is a youth ministry leader at Sacred Heart Church in Hopedale, also credits strong faith for his successful return. “It plays a big role,’’ he said. “When you have faith, it helps you to react positively to difficult situations.’’
Gerry Crepeau isn’t a captain because he’s popular. He’s a captain for all the right reasons.