Calgary’s top high school football prospect set to make big decision after outstanding career at Notre Dame

In the near future, many elite Canadian high school student-athletes will be faced with one of the toughest and most important decisions of their young lives — signing a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Letter of Intent.

Colton Hunchak of the Notre Dame Pride is one player that universities across Canada will be waiting in anticipation to hear from.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Calgary-born quarterback is being touted by many football scouts as the No. 1 high school prospect in Alberta. His multifarious myriad of achievements include two Midget Football Association Tier 1 championships with the Calgary Mavericks, a Top 10 individual ranking by Canada Football Chat, and two undefeated seasons at the helm of Notre Dame that both culminated in Provincial Championship victories.

In Hunchak’s ascension to Div. 1 dominance, he’s had to overcome many obstacles. But the one that seems to have the biggest impact on his team is his evolution into a great leader.

“I really wanted to grow as a leader because in the past I’ve been more of a ‘lead by example’ type of guy,” Hunchak said. “But this past year in the off-season and during the season I’ve wanted to be more of a vocal leader. We had sessions on how to do that with coach Diluzio and the other captains.”

Earning praise from his coach

Head coach Dave Diluzio is the mastermind behind Notre Dame’s awe-inspiring 32-game winning streak that stretches back to 2011. Yet Diluzio maintains that the achievement belongs to Hunchak and the rest of the players.

“Our program is very player-centered, so kids have a lot of responsibilities in terms of leadership,” Diluzio said. “Colton did an outstanding job of making sure our team was going in the right direction.

“We were in some tough situations. We were down in some games and we needed a fourth quarter comeback in one game and he really displayed a lot of poise and confidence in those situations,” Diluzio added.
Colton Hunchak (5, white) has been drawing scouting interest from colleges both north and south of the border with his amazing dual-threat play. Hunchak says he’s narrowed out down to four schools in Canada to continue his football career.

Photo courtesy of Colton Hunchak

And that confidence has spread to his teammates.

“You can always trust him. I trust his football skills and his football awareness,” Notre Dame co-captain, Jonathan Girma said of his quarterback, Hunchak. “Every time he gives me the ball I trust that he’s making the right decision. And even if he does make a mistake, I know it’s not one that he’ll keep in his head.”

With a grocery list of personal and team-based accolades, one would likely forgive the young athlete for developing an increased sense of haughtiness. Fortunately for his teammates this hasn’t been the case with Hunchak.

“A lot of players that have that kind of skill would really want to have all the focus on them,” wide receiver Girma said. “But to see him have those kind of football skills and not allow it to get to his head kind of humbles you. That’s the kind of thing you can look up to.”

The cohesiveness and camaraderie present between Hunchak and his teammates is evident in every game. The culture at Notre Dame is built on hard work, accountability and a collaborative quest for excellence. In Hunchak’s three years with the team, he has not only embraced these values, he has begun passing them on to the next generation.

The next step

While many student-athletes headed to the next level in their respective sports can boast impressive statistics and athletic abilities, it’s often the intangibles like work ethic and off-field leadership skills that allow a player to achieve post-secondary success.

“In high school, Colton was so much faster and agile than a lot of the guys he was playing,” coach Diluzio said. “At the next level it’s not going to be that way. There are going to be guys who are just as fast as him or faster.

“But his off-field preparation — to know where he needs to be, to know what his assignments are — is really what is going to set him apart,” Diluzio continued. “I envision him having an outstanding CIS career.”

Colton Hunchak stands beside his brother, Brett (right) and Micah Teitz (left) at the conclusion of the International Bowl game. Colton’s teammates say despite his star-prowess, he doesn’t let it get to his head.

Photo courtesy of Colton HunchakDespite an onslaught of recruitment from schools across Canada and the United States — including San Diego State, who have over a dozen alumni currently playing in the NFL — Hunchak has narrowed his prospective future schools down to four: the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, Carleton University and York University.

Hunchak’s primary concern is finding a school with a culture similar to that of the Notre Dame Pride.

“I want to go where I can make the most impact and where I feel most comfortable at,” Hunchak explained. “Playing here, it’s such a family. I want to be at a school where that kind of carries on.”

While the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta have recruited him as a quarterback, York and Carleton are interested in his abilities as a wide receiver. With a speedy 4.5 40-yard dash time and excellent dexterity, Hunchak excels in aspects from both positions, so it’s not going to be the determining factor in where his Letter of Intent will end up.

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“Wherever I can get on the field and the fastest I can make an impact for the team is where I will play.” Hunchak said. “I’m down to those four schools and I’ll make my decision but I’m definitely not going to sign early.

“I’m probably going to wait till February or March. I’m going to really take my time because it’s the next five years of my life.”

dball@cjournal.ca