The spring game has been played and the academic year is about to conclude. Still, that does not stop Hutto Independent School District athletic director and head high school football coach Brad LaPlante from looking forward to the 2019 season.

LaPlante and the Hippos are fresh from an impressive 11-1 campaign in 2018, which included a 6-0 romp through District 11-5A. But make no mistake, LaPlante, who was born and raised in Minnesota, does not plan to rest on his laurels from his first year as head of the Hutto program.

“A goal, an expectation is: Can we repeat again?” LaPlante told Texas Scorecard. “Last year, we were district champs. We were undefeated. Undoubtedly, we were offensively and senior-led. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to have to do it in a different way.”

Hutto fell to Richmond Foster High, 41-31, in the region round of the 2018 playoffs. UCLA freshman quarterback Chase Griffin suffered a season-ending injury during the game; he graduated a semester early.

LaPlante expects the Hippos to play tougher and his underclassmen to step up to a veteran level.

“Our schedule isn’t easy now,” the AD said, acknowledging that Hutto has stiff competition in its district foes.

According to LaPlante, rivals Cedar Park and Georgetown present the Hippos tough obstacles on the way to another 11-5A crown.

“Everybody talks about last year’s team,” he added. “Well for me, it’s about the process and building the program because you’re going to lose seniors every year.”

The coach stated that it will be the first four games of the 2019 season — West Mesquite High, Liberty Hill High, Houston Lamar High, and Del Valle High — in which Hutto will try to “grow up and find our identity.”

“We’ve got to come out injury-free and we’ve got to gain some confidence going into district,” said LaPlante. “We’ve got to trust that we’re going to be a good ball club by that time.”

LaPlante touted a 3-4 defensive scheme anchored by the highly scouted trio of Landon Watson, Lordswell Uwa, and Braylon Sugg.

With Griffin now in Southern California, LaPlante is currently looking for his replacement under center. As of this writing, three underclassmen have taken reps for the opportunity to conduct Hutto’s air raid offense.

A disciple of retired legendary coach Steve Van Meter, LaPlante, whose career spans two decades and three states, recalled how he and his family almost returned to Minnesota for good. He credited his predecessor for his present role, expressing love for the Hutto community.

“If they right now said you could be the head coach until you’re retiring, I’d sign it today,” said LaPlante. “I have no reason to look outside of Hutto. It has everything I want … it’s Hippo Nation!”