by nathan oster
Calder Forcella is going to attend school and play football at Chadron State College.
The Greybull High School senior made it official Wednesday afternoon when, with family and the entire Buff coaching staff surrounding him, he signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Eagles, a Division II program in Nebraska with a winning tradition.
The son of Joe and Lynn Forcella, Calder said Chadron coaches told him they want him to play on the defensive side of the ball. While that won’t be anything new for the two-way starter at GHS, it isn’t the position where he had the most success.
He was the unquestioned leader of this year’s Greybull Buff team. The starting quarterback, Forcella led all of 2A in passing yards, with 1,626 in eight regular season games, an average of 203.3 per game, as well as in all-purpose yards, with 2,419, an average of 302.4 per game.
He threw for 17 touchdowns and rushed for eight more all while throwing only three interceptions. In large part due to him, Greybull had the top-ranked passing attack in 2A, averaging 223.9 per game, and ranked third overall in total offense, with 419.9 per game.
While he’d prefer to play quarterback at the next level, Forcella emphasized that he’ll do whatever it takes to help the Eagles win.
“Football is something I love and I just want to keep playing it,” he said. “Every school that recruited me did so as an athlete. Some talked to me about playing quarterback, safety, slot, running back. Chadron views me as a safety or linebacker, which is just fine with me.”
While he was contacted by more than a dozen schools, it came down to three: Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D.; the University of Montana Western in Dillon; and Chadron State College. He visited all three campuses during his recruitment.
“The decision was pretty easy, actually,” he said. “Chadron’s always been a place that I loved. I went there as an either grader, as a manager on our varsity football team that was attending a camp there. I loved it then. I went to camp there this summer and loved it. I went on a visit and loved it. So to be honest, I knew before I even left the campus (on my visit) that’s where I would be going.”
As he did at GHS, Forcella will be following in the footsteps of Clay Cundall.
Like Cundall, Forcella was a standout quarterback in high school.
Like Cundall, he chose Chadron.
And like Cundall, he’s going to be making the switch to defense.
“Clay is someone I always looked up to as a role model growing up,” said Forcella. “Knowing how good he was, and watching him go off to Chadron, I told myself that if I worked hard and had the opportunity, it’s something I would like to do, too.”
Forcella said the Eagles success on the field was another drawing card.
“They seem to be in the top 20 every year, always competing to win their conference,” he said.
At Chadron, he plans to go into secondary education, with a major in social sciences and a minor in PE or English.
He points to those around him as the reason for his success.
“I set a goal of playing college football as a fifth grader and I couldn’t have done it by myself,” he said. “I’ve always had people pushing me, great mentorships with coaches and great teammates. All that made it easier to get in the weight room and do all the film study. It’s rewarding to see it all pay off.”
Calder is also following his dad’s footsteps. Joe played at Western Montana in the early 1990s. Today he’s the school district’s maintenance supervisor and an assistant coach on the GHS football team. He’s had a front-row seat to watch his son’s development, both on the football field and off.
“People have no idea how many hours he’s put in,” said Joe. “All the lifting, the camps, the basic stuff you need to go through in order to be a football player. I have no idea how many balls I’ve caught from him. Thank goodness for his little brother (Dawson).”
Joe said that in addition to being another target for Calder’s passes, the brothers push each other and are constantly competing. Dawson is a sophomore at GHS, a standout in his own right as a running back and a linebacker.
One more tie-in to Chadron is the fact that Calder’s head coach his senior year at GHS was Marty Wrage, who spent 10 years coaching high school football in Nebraska and was an assistant coach at Chadron State for four years.
Wrage said he didn’t do any recruiting on Chadron’s behalf. “I think he made a good decision, though,” he said. “It was great that he had an opportunity to look at a few different schools and have the ability to choose where he wants to get an education and play football. I just happen to have some history there.”
Wrage said coaches typically urge seniors to take on leadership roles.
He didn’t have to do that with Calder.
“He’s been doing it since he got here,” he said. “He worked hard, he participated in other sports, he was active in the offseason programs and he was a good student academically. Kids like him are what our program is all about. Young kids in this community know who he is and want to wear his number, 10.”