October 20, 2014

Elyria
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High school football: Clearview pair makes first team

Taylor

Taylor

Morgan

Horton

Anderson

Clearview didn’t achieve the finish it wanted on the football field, but the Clippers did end their season on a positive note as they placed two players on the Division IV All-Ohio first team Tuesday night.

Seniors Chad Anderson and Quentin Horton were honored for offensive achievements that helped the Clippers earn a postseason berth after a 7-3 regular season. Clearview lost 72-0 to Ottawa-Glandorf in a regional quarterfinal.

“Those two guys are well-deserving,” Clippers coach Mike Collier said. “We preached team first and those kids were team-first players, so winning this award is great for them and the team. We’re very proud.”

Joining the Clippers on the All-Ohio first teams were Brookside junior Jake Morgan in Division III and Elyria Catholic sophomore Justin Taylor in Division IV. The

All-Ohio teams in Divisions V and VI — as well as the Mr. Football announcement — will be released today.

Anderson, the Northeast Lakes district’s offensive player of the year, ran for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns, and caught 12 passes for 60 yards. He showed his worth on both sides of the ball, racking up 102 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions at his linebacker position.

Anderson upgraded from his All-Ohio second-team selection as a junior, and joined brother Anthony Hitchens, who made the first team twice. Anderson’s other brothers — Zach and Tony Williams — also earned All-Ohio recognition during their Clearview careers, and father Brad was a Lombardi Award nominee while playing for the Clippers.

“It feels good to be right there with them,” Anderson said. “(First team) was definitely a goal this year. It was one of the reasons I worked so hard during the offseason.”

Anderson’s numbers go hand-in-hand with Horton’s contributions to the team. The lineman was the top-graded blocker and anchored the line that helped Clearview roll up 2,000 rushing yards, 1,642 passing yards and score 276 points.

“This was something I had been thinking about since junior high,” Horton said. “It was a surprise, but I felt I had the work ethic to accomplish something like this.”

Both players brought up the fact that they were the first two at the school during the summer months.

“We’d get there about 5 in the morning,” Horton said. “We’d run around the track a little while, do pushups … all the extra work we knew we’d need to be successful this year.”

Success was hard to find for Morgan’s Cardinals, who went 0-10 this season, but that meant Morgan’s leg was needed more than ever.

“We did punt a lot this season,” Cardinals coach Thom Liesicki said. “But he was a weapon for us as a punter. He had three (of 44) punts that went over 60 yards and he had eight that landed inside the 20 … and he did it all on the run because we do a rugby-style punt, which makes it even more difficult.”

Morgan also ran 129 times for 818 yards and seven touchdowns on offense, and finished with 91 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception on defense. He stepped in at punter when Brandon Bellman, who was an All-Ohio third-team pick at the spot last season, tore his ACL last spring.

“When he got hurt, I knew I had to step it up,” Morgan said. “He’s so talented, so I stayed out a lot after practices working on my kicking.”

Brookside will be faced with the dilemma of having two All-Ohio punters next season. Morgan said he expects to rotate kicks with Bellman, but also believes having two All-Ohio players on the roster will be the spark the program needs to turn things around.

“Everyone was saying that we had a bad season,” Morgan said. “But I do think this will be the boost the team needs mentally for next year.”

Anyone who watched the Panthers play this season shouldn’t be surprised at Taylor’s selection. He ran 125 times for 983 yards — 7.8 yards per carry — and eight touchdowns, and caught 26 receptions for 281 yards and four more scores. The numbers weren’t as gaudy as they could have been as Taylor was often pulled from the game early in the second half and twice by halftime.

“He’s a dynamic, special player,” Panthers coach Mike Polevacik said. “Once we lost (quarterback) Jeremy (Holley), everyone knew we were going with Justin … and he was still effective. He still put up some really big numbers.”

Future opponents have to be worried, especially since Taylor said he felt he could have had a lot better season and he’s shooting for 1,500 rushing yards next year.

“It was a good year, but this (award) took me by surprise,” he said. “If I can do this as a sophomore, I can’t wait to see what I can do during my junior and senior years.”

Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or sbennett@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.