As a leader of Kettle Run’s football team, Casen Chumley tried to provide a stable presence on the field by regulating the volatile emotions of an intense sport.
The hallways of his school helped by expelling his anxiety before games.
Prior to commanding the Cougars on the field each game, the senior quarterback often spent a few minutes sprinting through the Kettle Run corridors.
“After that, my nerves would be out,” he said.
The unique routine bred rare results.
Chumley graduated as the most prolific passer in Kettle Run history by breaking at least five records as a senior while leading the Cougars to a 9-3 record with their first playoff victory since 2013.
That, combined with his unparalleled success as a wrestler and his ambition as a baseball player, made Chumley the Fauquier Times 2018 Kettle Run Boys Athlete of the Year.
“It was really awesome to watch his hard work pay off,” Cougars football coach Charlie Porterfield said. “I’m lucky I got to watch him succeed.”
Chumley graduated as Kettle Run’s career leader with 39 touchdown passes and 4,140 passing yards while setting single-season records by throwing for 2,012 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2017 with a single-game record of five touchdown passes. He compiled those numbers despite playing only two and a half seasons as the Cougars’ starting quarterback.
“My biggest goal, I would always tell Coach Porterfield, was just to be remembered,” said Chumley, an 18-year-old Warrenton resident. “So I think setting those records is one of those ways that will do it.”
Yet his favorite accomplishment wasn’t the ample touchdown or yard totals.
“The best record is just the 9-3; the overall thing for the team,” Chumley said. “It was awesome because we really turned our record around.”
The Cougars finished the 2016 and 2015 seasons with 3-7 records, but they tripled their win total in 2017. That included Kettle Run’s first victory against rival Liberty since 2011.
Kettle Run beat the Eagles, 27-26, by rallying from a 26-7 deficit with Chumley leading three touchdowns drives of 94, 74 and 53 yards over the final 16 minutes of the second half.
“Just awesome,” he said. “Beating Liberty is always just a huge accomplishment for anybody in the county.”
Charlie Porterfield has a 3-year-old video on his phone from one of his first days as Kettle Run’s head coach.
It shows a sophomore quarterback throwing a football with one arm despite the other arm resting in a sling thanks to a broken collarbone.
That was Porterfield’s introduction to Casen Chumley.
“But I look at the kid in that video, and see him now. He’s changed leaps and bounds for the better, and he was already a phenomenal kid,” Porterfield said. “To grow and build the confidence he has now … was really phenomenal.”
Since their first meeting, Chumley improved his touch on deep throws, increased his velocity on shorter throws, developed a better pocket presence and boosted his running speed.
Perhaps more importantly, though, he developed as a leader.
“One of the best natural leaders I’ve ever been around,” Porterfield said. “It certainly made my job easier.
“Being a quarterback is a special kind of unique position,” Porterfield said. “You have to be humble enough to have people follow you, but you’re also kind of running the show.”
Chumley had plenty of time to find that balance while playing quarterback since he began the sport as a 7-year-old living in Colorado. The Chumley family later moved to Virginia when his father’s Air Force career required a relocation.
Living in a military household helped foster Casen Chumley’s leadership skills and pushed him toward the role of quarterback. His father, Josh, also played that position as a youth.
“He’s always taught us to lead from the front and to never be a follower,” Chumley said. “Since I was a little kid I’ve been kind of taught to be a leader. My dad’s definitely been a huge part in everything I’ve done.”
Chumley always felt comfortable leading by example during his football career, but he made a conscious effort to be more vocal as a senior.
“Being able to step out and get loud when I needed to, and not worry about what people are thinking about me,” he said. “That’s something I really struggled with in the past.”
Chumley had a similar role with Kettle Run’s wrestling team. Head coach Mike Foy looked to him for leadership as the Cougars’ lone senior starter.
“He meant the world to the team,” Foy said. “If somebody’s not having the success he had, he’s good about going up to them and keeping them going, and motivating them.
“He always had a positive attitude,” the coach said, “which isn’t easy because sometimes wrestling can be miserable.”
Casen Chumley graduated as a three-sport athlete, but that diversity developed late.
He entered Kettle Run as simply a freshman football player before adding wrestling to his schedule as a sophomore and baseball as a senior.
In fact, Chumley hadn’t played any competitive baseball since his introduction to the sport as an 8-year-old T-ball player. Yet that didn’t keep him from returning to the diamond 10 years later.
“Wanted to say I gave it a shot,” Chumley said. “I wasn’t the best baseball player, but I enjoyed being with everybody on the team.”
He served mostly as a pinch runner after missing the first few weeks of the season with a sprained ankle.
“Casen is a great kid, works hard and was just happy to be part of the team,” Cougars coach Ty Thorpe said.
Chumley achieved much more during the winter sports season. He graduated as one of the most decorated wrestlers in Kettle Run history despite beginning the sport only three years earlier.
As a senior, in Class 4, he won a Northwestern District championship and a Region C title before finishing as a state runner-up at 182 pounds.
“That’s a very rare resume,” Foy said. “That’s very hard to accomplish for kids that have wrestled 10 years.”
Caden Lody stands as Chumley’s nearest peer with Kettle Run’s first state runner-up finish in 2016, which followed the first region title in history and a conference runner-up finish.
Chumley graduated with a 96-35 career record after going 35-5 as a senior.
“Sometimes wrestling is just about refusing to lose,” Foy said. “Casen was that guy. Sometimes he wasn’t the best wrestler on the mat … but he would just power his way through.
“Casen would out-work everybody,” the coach said. “And he’d never complain about anything.”
Even Kettle Run football coach Charlie Porterfield admired Chumley’s work on the wrestling mats. Those accomplishments actually impressed Porterfield more than Chumley’s historic performance as a senior quarterback.
Winning the district wrestling championship particularly stood out to the Cougars’ football coach.
“The emotion he had on the mat and how it meant so much to him,” Porterfield said. “To watch him overcome something I don’t know he thought he could do … was even better than anything on the football field.”
Chumley upset top-seeded Franco Camarca of Fauquier during the district title match, 4-2, by rallying from a 2-1 deficit with the winning takedown during the final five seconds of the third period.
“He just had a will to win, and that made him unique and special,” Porterfield said Chumley's tenure as a Kettle Run wrestler and football player. “He always found a way to get it done.”