SHEFFIELD TWP. — Clearview planted the seeds for future football success last season with a freshman starting quarterback and numerous underclassmen playing on both sides of the ball.
Now it’s time for the harvest.
The 2012 Clippers have 20 seniors on their roster, quarterback Roger Engle has a year of experience under his belt and coach Mike Collier is hoping the team can return to its usual perch atop the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division standings.
“There are more expectations this year,” Collier said. “We put in more work and better work in the summer than we have ever done before.”
After starting last season 0-3 and losing six of its first seven games en route to a 4-6 season, Clearview knows this year it will have to come out of the gate ready to win in Week 1.
“We are just taking everything game by game and preparing to dominate one week at a time,” Engle said.
Engle completed 45 percent of his passes, threw for 800 yards and tossed eight touchdowns a year ago. However, his 10 interceptions showed there were some growing pains, too.
He said the difference between coming into camp as a freshmen and a sophomore is huge.
“Coming into freshman year there were many times I was nervous,” Engle said. “Now I have more confidence, I can make reads easier and I know what to look for when I’m out on the field.”
Collier believes Engle now has the mental and physical maturity to make the passing game a bigger part of the offense.
“Roger’s not your typical sophomore,” he said. “He’s been to camps and he really understands the game of football.”
Engle will also have a talented group of wide receivers to help him. Ryan Vargo caught 11 passes, one of which went for a touchdown last season and, according to Collier, he’s just one of many who will be prime Engle targets this year.
“We have a lot of players that I’m comfortable with to go out there and make plays,” Collier said. “At this point in the year we’re just fine-tuning a lot of things and making sure that everyone is working within the system.”
It also helps having a running back like Chad Anderson beside you in the huddle.
Anderson, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound power runner, rushed for 461 yards and five touchdowns as a junior and the Clippers coaching staff is expecting even bigger things from him this year. Senior Anthony Alston is also expected to see significant carries.
“Chad is a great overall football player,” Collier said. “He grew up with it, he lives for it. He loves contact and he’s always in the middle of every play.”
As important as Anderson is to the Clearview offense, he plays an even bigger role on the defensive side of the ball, where he earned first-team all-district honors after a 2011 season in which he led his team in tackles and sacks.
The biggest strength of the Clearview team should be on the offensive and defensive line where all-district honorable mention Quentin Horton heads a group of talented returnees that include first-team, All-PAC first-teamers Randall Hatcher, Billy Doughty and Matt Ortiz.
Horton said the tough experiences of last year brought the team closer going into this season.
“This team is really like a family,” he said. “We stay together on and off the field. Nobody wants to be a loser so what happened last year gave all of us an even stronger work ethic in the offseason.”
The Clippers know they will have to get off to a better start this year. With that in mind, the coaching staff set up scrimmages against a pair of Division I schools, North Ridgeville and Berea, to get the team ready.
Clearview will play Vermilion, John Marshall and Amherst before opening PAC play in Week 4 at Keystone.
Besides some inexperience in the defensive backfield, Collier’s biggest worry heading into the season is keeping the team healthy. However, with a senior-laden roster, the Clippers should be able to withstand injuries better than in past seasons.
“We’re going to have a balanced offense and swarming defense,” Collier said. “These guys have worked hard and they’re ready for the season to begin.”
- CONFERENCE: Patriot Athletic Conference, Stripes Division
- 2011 RECORD: 4-6, 4-3
- COACH: Mike Collier, 6th year (35-16)
- RETURNING LETTERMEN: 20
- RETURNING STARTERS: 12
- FAST FACT: The Clippers have had a winning record in conference play each year since 2006.
- Aug. 24: Vermilion
- Aug. 31: John Marshall
- Sept. 7: at Amherst
- Sept. 14: at Keystone*
- Sept. 21: Wellington*
- Sept. 28: at Fairview*
- Oct. 5: at Oberlin*
- Oct. 12: Lutheran West*
- Oct. 19: at Brooklyn*
- Oct. 26: Columbia*
All games start at 7 p.m.
*Patriot Athletic Conference games
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.