The senior-laden Clawson football team is getting ready for some pretty big things this fall. If the expectations go as planned, the Trojansm, dominated by three-year starters at all the most crucial spots, could be making some serious noise come playoff time and become one of the county's best feel good stories of the 2009 season. Over the past two years, this group has played some real quality football, yet just barely missed qualifying for the post-season in both '07 and '08. I predict this is the year they will get it done. Pencil head coach Tim Sparks' bunch of gritty gladiators for the school's first trip to the Division 3 playoffs since 2006 - Sparks has gotten his squad into the post season in three of his seven years at the helm
Its easy to have faith in this team, as they have two of the MAC-Bronze conference's best skill position players in senior quaterback, Rob Feeman and senior running back Howard Crippen, each being recruited to play at the next level. Feeman, getting looks from a number of mid-major programs and a whose-who of D2 schools, is an old fashioned gun-slinger with a rocket arm. He exhibits a magnetic leadership on the field that makes the players around him want to go out of there way to make sure they don't let him down. He's smart too, calling the majority of the teams plays himself from the line of scrimmage based on how he reads the opposing defense. That's how much confidence that Sparks and his staff have in him. "Its just amazing how mature his mind for the game is," said Sparks of his on-the-field leader. "He has sharpe instincts and is attune to all the little nuances that make quarterbacks great"
Crippen, also talking to a bunch of mid-majors, is fast and strong and is sure to be one of the more statistically prolific backs in the area this year. In addition to his hard-nosed running, Crippen is a danger catching the ball in the flat - over 70 receptions in his two years on Varsity -and provides Feeman a lethal checkdown option/safety valve in case of the blitz. The definition of a win-at-all-costs talent, Crippen plays both ways, captaining the squad's defensive secondary from his spot at Strong Safety. "The more you see of him, the more impressed you become," said Sparks, "He just a workhorse of every sense of the word."
Feeman's primary targets this season will be senior wide out Mike Griffen, last season's leading receiver, and junior Cody Lehman, a starter since he was a freshman in the slot. Griffen and Lehman each have the capability to shred up significant yardage against opposing cornerbacks and can hurt teams in both the short and long passing game. In the trenches, the Trojans line will be led by the beefy-tanden of Efremm Owens and Steve Wendell.
"I think this team has a big opportunity in front of it," said Sparks following a practice on Tuesday afternoon. "With the kind of skill and leadership this group possess, they have the chance to be very dangerous on the field and do something special. But I'm a put up or shut up kind of guy. So, you got to do it, before you have the right to be talking about it. Talk is cheap. Now, until we beat Lamphere, who in my opinion is the favorite in the league and a team we've had some recent problems with, none of this really matters much. That said, if we can do that, the sky's really the limit with these guys"