Throwback Thursday: Austin Chipoletti

Chipoletti goes from slinging touchdowns to cowboying in Wyoming

Randy Lefko
Posted 7/10/19

AFTON, WY. - He was part of the package when Oakleaf High School decided on a new coach for their flailing football team that hadn't won but two games in its first three years of existence and it was …

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Throwback Thursday: Austin Chipoletti

Chipoletti goes from slinging touchdowns to cowboying in Wyoming

Posted

AFTON, WY. - He was part of the package when Oakleaf High School decided on a new coach for their flailing football team that hadn't won but two games in its first three years of existence and it was his dad, Derek, now head coach at St. Johns Country Day School, who righted the ship.

"We got to the playoffs at Bradford and we talked about doing what was best for him at the time," said Chipoletti, who had played for Bradford County High where his dad coached and his grandfather, Neal, was athletic director. "We're a family first. I'm still friends with guys from Bradford."

Austin Chipoletti, now a cowboy on the Rocking J ranch in a small town called Afton in Wyoming, came to Oakleaf as a slinging, running quarterback that could do damage in the air with a corps of receivers that could break games instantly and with a running back, Aaron Duckworth, that could break on a dime and go yard in a hearbeat, came with his dad to Oakleaf. The pair instantly put the Knights back in the county conversation as more than just a good homecoming game.

Note: On defense was a kid named Shaquille Quarterman, a freshman who played linebacker.

"I didn't know about Shaq, but we were told there was a big, freakish athlete coming up from the junior high," said Chipoletti. "People were telling us about him. He played both sides at junior high."

Quarterman is now an All-ACC senior linebacker for the University of Miami. Duckworth graduated from University of Idaho after a stellar college stint as a running back.

On the first Chipoletti schedule, in 2012, the young upstart and his dad devised schemes to get wins over playoff bound Clay and Fleming Island under Frank Hall who eventually finished just out of the playoffs with a 7-3 record.

"We missed the playoffs by a game, but we lost to Columbia and Ridgeview and that kept us out," said Chipoletti. "Against Columbia, we got to the one yard and the ref threw a flag because my helmet chinstraps unbuckled and the flag nullified my touchdown that should have won the game."

The Fleming Island game was THE big game.

"I knew going in I was going to have a big game," said Chipoletti. "We had some history. There was a little bad blood."

After grandfather Neal Chipoletti opened the Fleming Island High School football team as its first head coach with son Derek as his offensive coordinator, Fleming Island would hire Frank Hall when Neal Chipoletti was to end his tenure.

"My dad interviewed for the job and they still hired Frank Hall," said Austin Chipoletti. "That was enough motivation for me to have a big game."

Chipoletti, after finishing off a 6-4 season with his dad, had a brief college stint at Weber State University in Montana where he had worked his way to action in 12 games as a true freshman, but still did not earn the starting slot despite 1650 yards passing, eight scores plus two touchdowns on the ground. The Wildcats did finish at 2-10.

"There was a coaching change," said Chipoletti. "I won the starting job in the spring for my sophomore year, but it wasn't home. I decided to leave and get somewhere closer."

Chipoletti transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Alabama-Birmingham was a better fit, but utimately, the program folded and Chipoletti had to decide on a new life path.

Chipoletti finished at UAB with a business degree from UAB.

"Football was always a means to an end, but at that time, I was ready to move on," said Chipoletti. "UAB was good to honor the scholarship so I could finish my college education."

Enter ranching.

"I met a girl, Cheyenne Johnson, a student at Weber, and we started to go out," said Chipoletti. "She came from a big ranch family and I thought the small schools my dad coached at; Williston and Bradford, had given me some cowboy. I think they thought of me as a 'honyocker' a wannabe cowboy. Pretty funny."

Chipoletti, now 23, eventually married Cheyenne, now 28, and added daughter Maizey, now 2, to the family with a second daughter on the way.

"If you know me, I'm very competitive in everything I do and I was determined to make the cowboy thing work," said Chipoletti. "Cheyenne's family was filled with big time cowboys so I was around the best in the west kind of and wanted to be better myself."

Will Chipoletti ever return to Florida?

"After living here in Wyoming, in flyover country, I kind of like being in the middle of nowhere because the people here are hardworking, love their country and love their family," said Chipoletti. "I don't know if I could live in a city anymore."

Chipoletti is currently looking for land of his own in Wyoming to pursue his own ranch.

"It's tough work and very generational," said Chipoletti. "There are not that many people my age with ranches. Money is not why you ranch. I love the life."

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