Clearwater had a breakout year in 2011 and with several all-league players returning, the Indians don’t only hope for a solid season, they’re at the point where they expect a solid season.
Coach: Dirk Ankerholz (16-14 overall, entering 4th year as head coach)
2011 Recap: Finished 8-2, started the season 7-0 before losing to Andale in the first round of the playoffs.
Returning Starters: 5 Offense, 7 Defense
Key Returning Players: Colin Frickey (TE/DE), Cody Hamilton (TE/LB), Dakota Vaughn (RB/DL), Johnny Becker (RB/DB), Brett Lukert (OL), Trynt Dunnegan (LB), Chad Reibenspies (DB), Austin Campbell (DB)
2012 District: Wellington, Winfield, Mulvane
Clearwater returns five starters from last year’s dominant offense that averaged 24.3 points per game. The duo of Jarrod Nickelson and Austin True are gone, which leaves the running back duties to Johnny Becker and Dakota Vaughn. Nickelson and True left a fairly heavy load to carry for the two of them, but with an effective offensive line in front of them, anything can be accomplished, especially the replication of the offensive production in 2011.
The Indians’ run game was what carried the team last year and it hopes to do the same again. Although Nickelson and True were all-league selections, Clearwater still retains a few all-league players from the 2011 roster. Tight end Colin Frickey stands in at 6’2” and 220 lbs., as Brett Lukert will anchor the offensive line for the rushing attack.
Head coach Dirk Ankerholz wants to see improvement in his team’s passing game. Clearwater didn’t throw the ball much in 2011, but that is something the Indians may focus on in 2012. Balanced offenses occasionally work in the high school ranks, so it will be interesting to see the kind of offensive attack Clearwater will use.
The offensive side of the ball holds more questions than the defensive side. Seven starters from the defense return for a run at a 2012 playoff berth. Almost the entire secondary returns for Clearwater, a squad that features Trynt Dunnegan, Becker, Austin Campbell and Cody Hamilton. Dunnegan was a first-team all-league selection in 2011 and will likely be the leader for the defensive back group. The defensive line will be anchored by Dakota Vaughn and Frickey, both all-league selections.
The offense in Clearwater likely won’t be putting up the same points per game as it did in 2011, so although it was second in the league, its defense will need to diminish its 19.8 points per game to avoid shootouts with opponents.
ODDS AND ENDS:
Clearwater had a breakout year in 2011 as it went 8-2 and racked up a ton of rushing yards. It won a league title, made the playoffs and put several players on all-league lists, a historical season by its standards. Clearwater met Andale in the first round of the playoffs where it lost 42-7. Earlier in 2011, the two Indians met and Clearwater was victorious over Andale, but couldn’t replicate the success in the playoffs.
Clearwater will meet Wellington, Winfield and Mulvane in district play, so it won’t be a cake-walk by any means for the Indians to make the playoffs for a second straight year. Winfield is consistently solid and Mulvane is a power year in and year out. Wellington is looking better as well. Clearwater needs to play extremely well down the stretch for any playoff hopes to remain alive.