'One Tree Hill's' Stephen Colletti on Season 9: 'The fans deserve a farewell season'

oth-colletti.jpgAt The CW's Upfront presentation on May 19, the network will announce their schedule for the 2011-2012 season, and " One Tree Hill" fans will finally learn whether or not their beloved characters will come back for an incredible ninth season on the air. Fans and cast alike have been actively campaigning to extend the series for at least one more year, and new series regular Stephen Colletti is no exception.

Though Colletti first joined the show in Season 4 (remember Chase as a Clean Teen?) he's only recently been added to the title credits as a main cast member. He's got his fingers crossed that Season 9 will get picked up -- he's already contracted to return -- so that Chase can get a chance to be more integrated with the rest of the characters.

But what of the critics who say that the series has run its course?

"I think that with the mastermind that is [creator] Mark Schwahn, there's always story left in there," Colletti tells Zap2it. "Personally I was really excited about the opportunity to come back because I just became a regular recently. In the last couple of seasons my story has really started to pick up and have more legs to it, where Chase actually gets out from behind the bar a bit more. He isn't just the gopher that pops up from time to time, says hello, and then burrows back down. I'd be excited about it."

More importantly, Colletti says, he thinks that after devoting the better part of a decade to the series, the fans, cast, and writers deserve a farewell season -- in other words, a season that is announced as a final bow, as "Smallville's" 10th season was this year.

"My prediction would be that Season 9 would actually be it, the end," he says. He's likely right, especially as series vets Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Galeotti have only agreed to one more season in their contracts. "I think this is the kind of show that owes that to the fans, where we should have a farewell season and let it be known that it's the last one. I definitely have one more in me, and I think that everyone else on the show does, too. The fans deserve a great farewell season."

When we recently spoke with creator Mark Schwahn, he suggested that the end of Season 8 has left the cast and crew feeling reinvigorated about the show, and that's no surprise given the most recent episodes, which have had more action and more romance than we've seen for a few months on the series.

Part of that is increased screen time for Colletti's character, who is exploring the possibility of joining the air force while navigating the "on-again" part of his relationship with Alex ( Jana Kramer). "The last few episodes for Chase are pretty strong," Colletti says. "He's got some great storyline and it'll all come to a head in the finale."

In the finale, Mia ( Kate Voegele) will return to Tree Hill after an extended absence, and Chase"s perpetual love triangle may finally see some closure. "There will be an answer to that by the end of the season. That plays more in the last few episodes," Colletti says. "I don't want to give away too much but there will be some resolution to who Chase will be with."

Though Colletti plays coy when it comes to Chase's choice, he's not shy about which character he'd go for if he found himself in Chase's shoes. "Personally, if I was making the decision, I think I'm more of a Mia fan. I'd go that way," he says. "There's something about both of them that I find appealing and definitely Chase does too. If it was me, I'd lean toward the sweet guitar girl Mia, but then, as you'll see, Alex has a really good heart too. They're pretty neck and neck for Chase in my mind, but I'm a big fan of Mia."

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