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Brookline football coach Chad Hunte looks for bounce back year on the field, and lifelong impact off it

In the foreground, Brookline High School football coach Chad Hunte walks across the practice field. BHS football players stand in the background
Brookline High School football coach Chad Hunte leads practice. Photo by Sean Young
September 5, 2023

For Brookline High School’s football coach Chad Hunte, the team’s culture and success off the field are just as important as the yards gained on it.

Hunte, entering his sixth season in charge of the Warriors, has seen the program from all angles – he watched his older brother AJ play for Brookline, played four years of linebacker himself from 2005 to 2008 along with his twin brother Kyle, and now leads the team from the sidelines.

“We always say it as a program that you’re here for life,” Hunte, 32, said. “If you spend one day with us on the field, we have you for the rest of your life.”

The team is hoping to have a bounce back year. Over his five years as head coach, Hunte holds a 7-44 record. Last year, Brookline closed the season on a six-game losing streak.

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Whether or not Brookline trumps its previous season’s win total will never be the sole goal of Hunte’s program, however.

“I think it’s just about understanding that the kids have someone to always talk to and always be there for them,” Hunte said. “It’s not always about football, so they’ll see me in all their other sports or any activities they do, whether it is sports, or plays, anything in school, anything in life.”

A coaching connection

While he was making his way through high school, Hunte grew a relationship that has served him well to this day.

Hunte’s high school coach, Laz Mitjans, played college football with Hunte’s father Alan at Northeastern.

When the Hunte twins were sophomores, Mitjans joined the Brookline High coaching staff. Over the next three years, Hunte’s skills shined and the bond between player and coach solidified.

“I have known [the Hunte kids] since they were born,” Mitjans said. “Chad is probably the toughest kid I ever coached, and I had a kid go play in the NFL and win a Super Bowl ring.”

Hunte said he still comes to Mitjans for advice, both on and off the field.

“He’s done it for a long time. He did it in Brookline, so that makes it even better for me because I think he knows what goes in and out of this program and the challenges and the ups and downs,” Hunte said.

A lifelong plan to be a coach

The years under Mitjans solidified his interest in coaching, but the seeds of that future had begun before he even reached high school.

“I kind of knew when I was like 11 or 12 that I wanted to coach,” Hunte said.

“When he ended up as an assistant coach at Brookline, it didn’t surprise me,” Mitjans said. “He ran our defense when he was in high school. We had a defensive coordinator but he basically ran our defense, he was that smart. He knew exactly what was going on.”

Long before he ever formalized his career plans, Hunte said he was busy playing the Madden NFL video game, crafting rosters and playbooks, and even donning his own coaching headset as he sat down in front of his TV.

He would later learn that working with real players, instead of virtual ones, was much more fulfilling.

“Once I got into high school and I got around my high school coaches, it definitely had a big influence on me,” Hunte said. “I knew at that point, it wasn’t just about football, it’s about the impact that you can have on kids.”

Since returning to Brookline, Hunte has continued to get valuable input from former coaches and other members of the community, but said it’s important to put his stamp on the team.

“I think the one thing about coaching is you always want to make sure that you bring yourself into it,” Hunte said. “I don’t want to do everything that my coach did. I want to make sure that I have my own flair and my own style involved in it.

After he graduated from Brookline, Hunte went on to play collegiate football at Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Several of his players have followed that same path, playing college football across all levels.

He tries to make sure that his current players recognize that, and are able to see former Warriors succeed.

“We’ll help take kids to different games so they can see something like their former teammates play,” Hunte said. “We’re also really big on if a kid tells us they want to play college football, our coaching staff does a good job of reaching out to coaches and building that network for them.”

Brookline High School football players stand on the field in front of the school.
BHS players practice before the start of their season. Photo by Sean Young.

Hopes for bounce back year

Early on, Mitjans told Hunte that coaching the Warriors would not be an easy task.

“Brookline is a nice school, but it’s a tough school to play football at because, for whatever reason, we just could never ever attract kids to that program,” Mitjans said. “I didn’t want him to get frustrated because I know how much he loves the game and how much football meant to him, but it didn’t deter him. He’s still trying to fight that fight, still trying to turn that program around.”

Hunte and the team hope that turnaround will start this year, especially with three key returning players.

In particular, the head coach has high expectations for his senior quarterback, Josh Karp, who is entering his third year as the team’s starter.

Last season, Karp earned a spot on the Bay State Conference First Team.

Karp said that Hunte’s belief in him early on allowed him to become the player he is today.

“My freshman year, obviously, I wasn’t super good at football but I think that he saw something within me. He thought I was going to be really good,” Karp said. “From then on, I went through some hardships with school, but he was always there for me and he also knows how I work. He knows how to get me going and he knows how to motivate me.”

The quarterback is one of the top recruits on this year’s Brookline team, and made visits to Boston College, Penn, and the University of New England over the past year.

Another one of the team’s top returnees is Andrew Bamberg, one of Karp’s top targets last season. Bamberg, a wide receiver and Bay State Conference Second Team selection last year, also plays cornerback for the Warriors, using his high-level speed on both sides of the ball.

When it comes to the team’s trenches, Hunte said Will Finklea will be there to set the tone this year. The six-foot-one, 280-pound lineman is another senior starting for the third year in a row.

The Brookline High School football team opens its season on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at Medford High School against the Medford Mustangs.