Scheels Athlete of the Week: Versatility Makes TePoel Valuable For Solon Defense

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Photo by Rob Howe

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

SOLON – The most important element for an outside linebacker in the Solon defense is versatility

“It’s kind of a dual threat position,” Solon junior Lucas TePoel explained.

The flexibility to play near the line of scrimmage against the run and also drop into pass coverage is critical for an outside linebacker in the Spartans’ system.

That combination makes the position perfect fit for TePoel.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound TePoel runs like a defensive back but hits like a linebacker making him an ideal fit for the hybrid spot.

“He loves to stick his nose in there,” Solon coach Kevin Miller said. “He’s kind of that outside linebacker or strong safety type that can come up and play the run but does a really nice job in pass coverage as well.”

TePoel spent the offseason packing weight onto his 5-foot-10 frame.

After wrestling his sophomore season at 152 pounds, TePoel got up to close to 180 pounds for football season.

“Over the summer we always focus on getting bigger, faster and stronger, that’s what we do every year,” TePoel said. “This year I felt like I could contribute a lot to the team and I just stuck to the process that coach Miller said and it’s gotten us this far.”

At 175 pounds TePoel is 20 pounds lighter than fellow outside linebackers Seamus Poynton and Colton Hoffman.

What TePoel may lake in size he more than makes up for in attitude and effort.

“I like hitting,” TePoel said. “That’s a big part of my game and the way I like to play.”

In his first varsity season TePoel has made an immediate impact.

TePoel ranks third on the team with 37 tackles and has picked off a pass while helping second-ranked Solon (12-0) reach the Class 3A state title game for the first time since 2010.

“He is a fearless kid,” Miller said. “He is just a hard-nosed, tough kid, a blue-collar type of player and I love players like that.”

TePoel has been at his best during the postseason and the Spartans have needed it while facing three distinctly different offensive styles.

In a first-round matchup against run-heavy Liberty High TePoel made a career-high 6.5 tackles.

A week later he had two tackles in a 24-0 win over Pella.

Last Thursday TePoel posted five tackles and made the game-clinching pass breakup in a 43-36 win over pass-happy Sergeant Bluff-Luton.

“He’s just a really instinctive player,” Miller said. “Some of the things that he does you can’t teach. He’s just a guy that can see it and react. You can talk about reading your keys all day long but at the end of the day are they making plays and are they around the football and if they are that says something about their football IQ and how instinctive they are.”

After allowing seven combined points in its first two playoff wins the Spartans gave up 23 in the first half against Sergeant Bluff-Luton last Thursday.

The Warriors scored on six of their first seven drives while taking a 35-28 lead with 7:41 left.

Solon came up with defensive stops on the next two Sergeant Bluff -Luton possessions while rallying for a 43-36 win.

“It’s a couple of plays in a game that make the difference,” TePoel said. “Our defense didn’t play to our full potential but we made the plays when we had to.”

TePoel came up with the biggest play of the game batting away a Daniel Wright pass in the end zone as time expired.  

“We had man coverage and I was just making sure that no one got behind me,” TePoel said. “I had my man and it ended up coming my way and I just had to pick it or knock it down and that was the turn out.”

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