Chris Coulter has learned a lot since becoming a Crusader.
But he was a very good football player before he entered Father Judge High School.
Coulter is a senior offensive and defensive interior lineman for the Crusaders, and every day he learns tricks of the trade from the team’s coaches. But his first coach may have been the best one he ever had.
His father, Craig Coulter, was also a star football player. He played at Frankford and was also a very good lineman.
Whenever Coulter was done with games, he would break them down with his first coach. Sadly, Craig suddenly passed away Jan. 2.
“He was a huge influence, I’m dedicating the season to him,” said Coulter, who lives in Winchester Park. “He played for Frankford, but he knew I was going to Judge. Being in the neighborhood and knowing all the friends and brothers of friends who went there, we knew I was going to Judge.
“He was a big fan. He helped me, he always brought up video on his phone and he would show me what I can work on. During NFL games he’d show me different plays that centers do, defensive tackles do. I used some of the stuff. He coached before, he never coached me, but he was always coaching me and helping me get better. He was great about helping me and helping me get better.”
His dad taught him well, and he’s put in a lot of work on his own to build himself into one of the top two-way linemen in the city.
He’s been a force on the offensive line since he arrived, and was starting as a freshman. But now that he’s a senior, he’s comfortable playing on both sides of the ball. In fact, despite having a lot more experience on the offensive line, he’s finding himself falling in love with playing defensive tackle and nose guard.
“I’ve played center my whole life, I’ve been playing that a lot longer, but I’m doing well on defense, and I love both positions, nose guard and defensive tackle,” Coulter said. “I mean they’re both kind of different in certain ways. Defense get off ball, use hands, be more violent. Offense you need to be more technical in what you do. I definitely think more on offense. I have to think about what linebacker I have to get to and block. You don’t have to do that on defense. Defense you just hold your gap and stop people from running.”
It’s good that Coulter is ready to play anywhere because the Crusaders need quality linemen.
Judge plays in the Catholic League Red Division, which is one of the toughest leagues in the state. The Crusaders play Archbishop Wood, St. Joe’s Prep, La Salle and Roman Catholic.
To make the state playoffs, the Crusaders will have to be better than the Hawks and Explorers since all three are in Class 6A.
The rest of the schedule isn’t much easier with nonleague games against Central Bucks South, Spring-Ford, Archbishop Ryan, Pope John Paul II, William Tennent and Conestoga, as well as the annual game against Lincoln on Thanksgiving.
There aren’t a lot of easy wins on that schedule, but that’s exactly the way Coulter likes it. You only get better playing the best, and that means Coulter should be a better lineman when the season ends.
“Center is tougher than guard and tackle, it’s one of the more important jobs on the field, especially when you’re playing tough teams, but I love that,” Coulter said. “Being up front, knowing if you don’t block the guy in front of you, there’s no gain on the play. That’s a big problem. Main key is being confident that you can block anyone.
“I love when we play those teams in the (Red Division) because you’re going to be tested every day. It’s hard, but it makes it more fun.”
Coulter is excited for football, and despite all his success in the sport, it might be his final year.
That’s because his newest sport, track and field, has been just as good to him.
Coulter joined the team as a sophomore and qualified for states in the shot put both years.
He has options next year, and he’s still trying to figure that out. He’d love to play football. He’d also love to throw the shot put. In a perfect world, he could do both, but he also has ambitious plans in the classroom.
“Freshman year I was stuck on football, 100 percent in college,” said Coulter, who ranks 15th in his senior class, is in the National Honor Society and is vice president of his class. “Then I started doing track. I’m mixed between the two. I love both sports, and I’ll be happy with either or maybe both.
“Right now I’m between engineering or sports and business management. I like both a lot.”
He’ll make an impact at anything he does. And he’ll continue to play a big role at home, where he lives with his mom.
“I’ve been trying to help, spending time with her, we’re doing OK,” he said. “She’s doing good, she’s doing better. I’m just trying to look out for her. It’s just me and her now.
“I’m dedicating the season to my dad. I really want to have a good year. We had some good wins last year and every year we build off the good wins. This year, I hope we can have a good season.
“Keep an eye out for Father Judge.”