Clinton football takes it step by step
Last season was a banner year for the Clinton Cougars.
They fought their way to their first playoff appearance in 13 years and didn’t stop there. Clinton won its first playoff game ever, going on the road to beat New Glarus/Monticello 26-14.
Expectations have only grown entering the 2014 campaign.
“Our next step, obviously, is to compete for a conference championship,” Cougars coach Jeff Spiwak said. “All of camp, we’ve talked about taking that next step as a program. Now what we’ve done in the past isn’t good enough. We’ve set a bar for ourselves.”
Clinton will continue to develop its hurry-up offense.
Derek Severson, the league’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, took a major step forward last year, and his accomplishments can be found elsewhere in this preview section.
Spiwak believes the Cougars will surround the veteran quarterback with plenty of talented skill players.
Luke Risse is a three-sport standout who is back at wide receiver, and he’s bringing Zach Kaminski, a talented forward from the basketball team, along with him.
Clinton must replace Jake Marchillo in the backfield, but Marchillo missed much of last season with an injury. Connor Campbell played solid in his stead and is a three-year varsity player.
“He’s ready to take that step as kind of our featured back,” Spiwak said. “And we’ve got a young sophomore, Jordan Jones, who is very fast and shifty.
“We’re really excited about our weapons on offense.”
Three-year starters Willy Churchill and Brenden Taylor will anchor the offensive and defensive fronts for the Cougars.
Replacing Marchillo might actually be more of a burden on the defensive side of the ball than in the backfield. He played the middle linebacker role in a 3-5-3 defense, and filling his shoes might take a committee.
“Rorick Austin will do a great job, and he’s ready,” Spiwak said. “It’s his senior year, and he’s hungry to be successful.
“We also have to replace our entire secondary, except for Luke Risse, and that’s going to be a challenge.”
The contender tag in the Rock Valley South has essentially always been limited to Walworth Big Foot and Brodhead/Juda.
But with plenty of talent returning, particularly on offense, the Cougars should have themselves in the mix.
“We’ve got some kids that want to compete,” Spiwak said. “Being in Year 3, we fully expect to be able to compete.
“Those upperclassmen have seen our progression the last couple years. You can tell they want to continue to grow.”