Clear Creek Amana offensive lineman Carter Hertel, Ethan Taylor, Will Swenka, Riley Burks and Max Moore.
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TIFFIN – Three weeks into last season Clear Creek Amana was searching for a spark and an identity on offense.
The Clippers found both in their offensive line.
Following an 0-3 start to the season Clear Creek Amana switched from its spread out, shotgun offense to a no-nonsense, three running back power set.
The Clippers responded by winning five of their final six regular season games to reach the 3A playoffs for the second consecutive season.
“I think we kind of got to the point where we decided we weren’t a flashy team, we have a bunch of farm kids so we said let’s do what they are used to let’s get their hands in the dirt and just attack people,” senior quarterback Ashton Carpenter said. “I think that is what our mentality is, we are going to come at you, we are going to run the ball and we are going to hit you in the mouth.”
The change in philosophy led to an increase in production.
After attempting 57 passes during its 0-3 start Clear Creek threw just 44 passes over the final seven games.
During that span the Clippers rushed for at least 247 yards six times and averaged 282 yards per game on the ground.
The offensive line was one of the biggest reasons for the increase in rushing production.
“We really grew as a unit when we started running the ball,” senior lineman Max Moore said. “We are always pushing each other and it just worked out last year.”
With four senior starters returning from last year’s offensive line the Clippers expect to be even better this season.
That is a frightening thought for opponents after the Clippers rushed for 252 yards per game a year ago.
“We could be amazing, one of the better groups in Iowa I would say,” Senior Ethan Taylor said of the offensive line. “We just want to control the game, that’s what our whole goal is. We want to control the game as long as we can and at the end of the day look up at the scoreboard and see a win.”
Taylor (6-0, 240) and Moore (6-1, 220) are the anchors on the Clipper offensive line.
Fellow seniors Carter Hertel (5-11, 240) and Will Swenka give the Clippers the most experience up front in head coach Matt Hughes’ four years leading the program.
“They can be fantastic,” Hughes said of the line. “They have gelled they’ve spent countless hours together in the weight room. They are basically inseparable so they have that chemistry that you want as an offensive line. I think for us to be as good as we can be it’s going to start up front with those guys.”
Junior Riley Burks (5-10, 220) expects to join the four seniors in the lineup as Clear Creek Amana hopes to build on its power football reputation.
“We always have the mindset that we are a hard-nosed team,” Taylor said. “We are a blue collar team and we started to line up and push people around.”