BELLVIEW — The Clear Fork Colts have battled all season to get right back to exactly where they were last year. Undefeated at 11-0, the Colts tied their school record for wins in a single season, which they set just one year ago. This Saturday at 7 p.m., the Colts’ have an opportunity to write a new page in their school record book, when they travel to Follis Field at Wooster High School and face the Clearview Clippers in a Division IV regional semifinal showdown.
The Colts come off a pressure packed, 20-6 win, against a quick-strike, pass-oriented Bryan offense. Not only did the Colts’ defensive unit hold them to one score, last Saturday — they virtually shut down Golden Bears’ quarterback Nate Miller (10-for-29, 70 yards, three INTs), only allowing them one play (pass or run) of more than 15 yards.
The Colts’ defense is led by 265-pound lineman Michael Chillemi (nine tackles vs. Bryan), who kept Miller off balance throughout the game. Sophomore defensive back Ashton Lyon came up big with a pair of crucial interceptions, including on that he ran back for a touchdown. The Colts’ defense only yielded 108 total yards in the game, grabbing a total of three interceptions and getting a big stop, deep in their own territory with time running out in the first half.
“Defenses win championships,” Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll said. “We tell our kids that offense is fun and it’s great, but when you can stop people in crucial situations, you’re going to win a lot of football games.”
The Clippers defeated the Highland Scots last Saturday evening, 30-16. It was against the Clippers that the Colts set their season record for wins, defeating them in the opening round of last year’s playoffs, 44-0. Clearview’s running attack is spearheaded by senior running back Drew Engle (5-feet-10, 187 pounds), who ran for 90 yards against Highland, last Saturday and over 1,000 yards for the season. Clearview senior David Renftle scored a pair of short-yardage touchdowns in second quarter against the Scots, running for a total of 38 yards on 10 carries. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is a tough, multi-purpose back, also playing wide receiver for the Clippers. Renftle caught three passes for 22 yards, last week. The Clippers also have speedy, senior running back Fabion Kirkwood, who tossed a 21-yard pass against the Scots.
“We were really happy with our defensive performance and we want to keep building on that,” Carroll said, “This week, we have to shift gears against Clearview. They are the opposite of Bryan and are a ‘run first’ offense. They do throw the football pretty well when they need to (quarterback Chase Christiansen was 8-for-18, 162 yards vs. Highland). We have to switch gears defensively, but keep the same intensity.”
The Colts’ performance on offense was unusually lackluster last Saturday, sputtering in the red zone all evening. Also, seven penalties cost Clear Fork 75 yards and negated some key plays.
“People that have been watching us all year, know that last week was uncharacteristic of us,” Carroll said. “We threw three interceptions (last week) and, I think we had three turnovers in the first nine games — total.
“Also, we failed to score in the red zone three times against Bryan,” Carroll continued. “We hadn’t been stopped in the red zone the entire year. That was one of our helmet award deals that we have each week. Our goal is to score every time we’re in the red zone and, every game we’ve scored every time we were in the red zone. Nobody has stopped us and to have that happen three times in a game wasn’t characteristic of us, at all.”
It wasn’t all negative for Clear Fork’s offense, which grinded out 162 yards rushing, led by running back Trevon Trammell’s game-best 17 carries for 79 yards. Quarterback Jared Schaefer ran for 52 yards and tossed the Colts’ only touchdown pass — a 64-yarder to teammate Caden Flynn. Schaefer and teammate Brennan South, sharing the Colts’ QB duties were a combined 5-for-16 last Saturday for a total of 91 yards. The Colts will go up against Clearview’s 280-pound, sophomore nose guard Daniel Christian, along with big defensive ends like Dylan Russ (255), Deari Todd (245), Richard Burroughs (240), Brandon Moore (230) and Victor Molina (225).
“We can’t have the holding calls and we can’t have the dropped passes,” Carroll said. “Maybe (last week) was a good thing. It may have been a wake up call. We just have to clean up the mistakes that we made on offense and continue to play that great defense.”