Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Given the long list of production lost to graduation from last season it is easy to focus on who is missing from the Clear Creek Amana roster this fall.
Gone is quarterback Ben Swails a 1,700-yard passer.
Also missing is his top target in all-state receiver Harrison Rosenberg and do-everything running back and linebacker Gage Freeman.
In all the top passer, top three rushers, top tow receivers and top three tacklers are gone from a Clipper team that reached the 4A playoffs in 2021.
While the list of who is missing from a year ago stands out there is an even longer list of returning Clippers ready to step up this fall.
“It’s kind of motivating knowing that people are saying we aren’t going as good without all those guys,” Clear Creek Amana senior Jackson Schmidt said. “Those guys were great leaders, good friends but that motivates you to try to prove people wrong.”
Clear Creek Amana returns 10 starters from last year’s team that went 6-4 and fell to Winterset 24-17 in the opening round of the 4A playoffs.
Much of the statistical production from a year ago is gone but experienced talent returns on both sides of the ball led by three starters on the offensive line and a trio of linebackers that all had at least 33.5 tackles.
“We had a lot of talent that we lose but I think we still have a lot of talent here that is ready to come back and do the same thing,” Clear Creek Amana senior Reece Hoffman said. “We have guys ready to step up.”
To accompany the list of 10 returning starters the Clippers have an even longer slate of players that have been in the system poised to step into starting roles.
Leading that list is Schmidt, a senior that has varsity experience at defensive back and slot receiver and takes over for Swails at quarterback this fall.
“I think the mindset is we have to find guys to fill those shoes of the guys we lost and I think we’ve done that,” Schmidt said. “We can’t let that get us down knowing that we lost those seniors we have to have guys step up and I think we’ve done that and we are feeling confident.”
Schmidt (6-0, 155) showed his athleticism a year ago catching five passes for 75 yards and rushing for 67 yards and a touchdown.
The senior dedicated his offseason prepping to make the move back under center where he played early in his football career.
“I’m really proud of Jackson in what he has done up to this point,” Clear Creek Amana coach Matt Haddy said. “He put a ton of time in the summer both from a physical standout and getting better at throwing the football. His biggest area was being able to complete the throws that we need him to make, he has always been a really good athlete and he’s going to continue to be a really good athlete and you saw that last year playing receiver but his next step in his progression is being able to make the throws we need him to make.”
Schmidt has the luxury of working behind an experienced offensive line.
Seniors Caleb Allan (6-4, 230) and Jack Downes (6-1, 215) both return with starting experience along with sophomore Vinny Keller (6-1, 240).
As Schmidt and a new group of skill position players get comfortable the Clippers hope to lean on that experienced offensive line early.
“We are going to rely on that group, we have high hopes for that group with where they are at but we have two guys that will be starting their first varsity game too,” Haddy said. “I feel really good with where we are at on the offensive line.”
The Clippers will look to be stout on defense with seven starters returning led by a trio of linebackers.
Seniors Nick Johnson (6-1, 195) and Brock Sherman (6-1, 175) return after making 38.5 and 33.5 half tackles respectively last season.
Sophomore Brody Clubb (6-4, 225) moves from defensive end to outside linebacker after ranking fourth on the team with 39.5 tackles a year ago.
Toss in senior Sam Schneider and the Clippers will have as good a linebacker group as any team in 4A.
“I think we are going to have about as good of linebacking corps as we will see with Sherman and Nick Johnson and Sam Schneider who played a good amount of football last year and Brody is going to be out there a lot more as opposed to having his hand on the ground,” Haddy said. “That’s a group we are really high on and I think our secondary has a chance to be really good.”
Hoffman (6-1, 180) returns at safety to bolster the secondary after making 28 stops a year ago while senior Ashler Roehler (6-2, 170) is back at a corner back spot and Jack Stevens (6-0, 165) and Marcus Lang (6-2, 170) each return in the secondary.
The Clippers will try to clamp down defensively after allowing 24.1 points per game a year ago.
“We’ve had a lot of guys step up on the both sides of the ball,” Hoffman said. “Brock Sherman and Nick Johnson have done a great job of stepping up and leading and I think Jackson has done a really good job offensively at quarterback.”