The past two seasons have not turned out the way Michael Brown intended. The Clements head football coach has won two games in his first two seasons with the Colts, but is not about to quit on the school.
Far from it, actually.
Despite the tall task his team faces in Class 3A Region 8 this season, Brown enters his third season full of optimism, ready for the challenges that await his team in a few short weeks,
“I think what we’re trying to do is slowly coming into effect,” Brown said. “The coaches at Clements in the past have been here two or three years and then they leave. There hasn’t been a tradition of winning in the past. If you’ve got stability with the coach and community involvement, the kids will stay because there is more in it than just winning a football game here and there.”
Brown faces plenty of challenges at the school, most notably in numbers. As of the team’s first practice in pads Thursday, Clements had 22 players on its roster. With 11 players suiting up on offense and defense, it doesn’t take a mathematician to know there will be plenty of players doing double duty for the Colts this season.
“We’re going to be playing 3A football against team that have 65-75 kids and we’re dressing out a third of that,” Brown said. “That’s something we can’t control. It’s just where we’re at right now.”
Along with limited numbers, the players Clements do have lack experience with just three starters returning from last season. Brown said they will tweak what they do on offense this season to what kind of players are returning.
“Our offense is based on our personnel because of our numbers,” Brown said. “We can’t really play a smash mouth style because we won’t last 10 weeks. We may only play two spread teams all year. With our numbers, we’re going to have to finesse it a little bit to be able to physically last. We want to try to be as strong late in the season as we are at the beginning.”
Running the offense will be first-year starting quarterback Marcus McNaughton. Along with McNaughton, Clements will lean on a senior-laden offensive line and running back Damarcus Johnson.
Defensively, Brown said the team hopes to get back to a more aggressive offense resembling the one Clements had in 2009. That Colts team went 7-4 and forced 41 turnovers.
The AHSAA did Clements no favors by shaking up Class 3A Region 8. Gone from the region are Rogers, Sheffield and the Colts only win last season in Danville. Replacing them will be two top five teams in Deshler and Madison Academy along with Westminster Christian.
“Anybody any week can get beat,” Brown said. “We can’t control our region schedule. Our deal is to not just be that upset team, but to do things that make teams we have to play practice differently each week or maybe they won’t even spend time because they are looking past us.”
Brown hopes his Clements team can play the role of spoiler at least a few times this season, but believes the Colts can eventually achieve more than that. Deshler and Madison Academy look to be the favorites in the region, but it could be wide open after that.
Outside of the region slate, Clements will play county rivals West Limestone and Ardmore, along with a Catholic-Huntsville in the final week of the season. Brown hopes the season-opener against West Limestone can be a springboard for the rest of the year.
“It’s a big game for the county,” Brown said. “Hopefully everybody can come out. To me county games are important for a few reasons. Hopefully there will be 2,500 people out there. That’s what we want.”
Along with opening the season at home against West on Aug. 31, the Colts will most likely play a jamboree against Tanner, although that date and time has not been determined yet.