Clear Creek Amana senior Jared EckrichBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Off to the best start in program history and coming off an upset of No. 5 West Delaware on Friday Clear Creek Amana is one of the biggest surprises in the state this season.
What has come as no shock is how the Clippers have gotten to 6-0 for the first time ever.
Clear Creek Amana has used the two foundations of the Matt and Ronnie Hughes era, a power running game and a stout defense to start 6-0 and climb atop the Class 3A, District 4 standings.
Senior Jared Eckrich has been at the heart of both of those Clear Creek Amana staples and the Clippers perfect start to the season.
“Jared is a guy that I would say is a big time leader on our team, not vocally but just leading by example,” Clear Creek Amana coach Matt Hughes said. “He gives a lot to our football team as a player and as a teammate and a member of what we are trying to accomplish.”
It has been no surprise to see Eckrich standing out on the defensive side of the ball.
A year ago Eckrich ranked third on the team with 50.5 tackles as Clear Creek Amana went 5-5 and reached the playoffs for the second straight season.
This season Eckrich has become the leader of a Clipper defense that ranks among the best in Class 3A.
Eckrich has a team-high 38 tackles, including seven for loss, from his middle linebacker spot for a CCA defense that is allowing 6 points and 185 yards per game.
“Just seeing plays develop is the big thing,” Eckrich said of his defensive success. “Watching lineman and backs and the ball and all that. It’s definitely come the more I have played but usually that’s pretty natural for a good linebacker.”
The role Eckrich has played in Clear Creek Amana’s rushing success has been a slight surprise.
Eckrich rushed for 348 yards last season but was expected to once again be a change of pace option to standout Drake Brezina in the Clipper backfield.
When Brezina was lost for the season with a torn ACL in week 2 Eckrich saw his offensive role increase.
Eckrich has rushed for 370 yards and five touchdowns, teaming with junior Matt Brimeyer in a potent Clipper backfield tandem.
“It’s pretty easy when you have good blockers in front of you making big holes for you,” Eckrich said. “Our line has been great and that makes it easy for our running backs.”
The combination of Brimeyer and Eckrich has excelled in the absence of Brezina who rushed for 1,010 yards last season.
Together the duo has rushed for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns, helping the Clippers average 245 yards per game on the ground.
That success has been no surprise to Hughes.
I knew those guys could do it, they are both unbelievable running backs but their deal was they were always behind another unbelievable running back in Drake Brezina,” Hughes said. “I think you’ve seen both Jared and Matt Brimeyer get in the spot light and they are doing the things that we have seen them do all along but they are doing it in a lesser capacity before now.”
Brimeyer and Eckrich give Clear Creek Amana more than just depth in the backfield, the duo provides the Clippers a pair of different runners.
Brimeyer has run for a team-high 482 yards and has three consecutive 100-yard games after rushing for 102 yards in a 30-14 win over West Delaware on Friday.
“I feel like we both bring hard work and we both keep driving until the play is over but we are two different backs and we both bring different aspects to the game,” Brimeyer said. “We are two different backs with two different running styles.”
Since the injury to Brezina in week two the duo has combined to average 178.5 yards per game.
The speedy Brimeyer is averaging 5.4 yards per carry this season while the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Eckrich is averaging 7.4 yards per attempt.
“They are both are extremely hard runners but Jared is just a little taller and brings a little more thump to him and Brimeyer can get around the corner and get going fast,” Hughes said. “I think they both complement each other well.”
While some may see the early success for Clear Creek Amana as a surprise this season Eckrich and his teammates expected it.
The key for the Clippers is to keep the strong start going. “I think we all thought we could be good, I don’t know if we thought we would be undefeated but we knew we had a good team,” Eckrich said. “We just want to keep going and keep trying to be 1-0 each week.”