Clearfield football preview: Falcons have 3rd different head coach in 3 years
BRIAN WOLFER, Special to the Standard-Examiner
CLEARFIELD — There are a few things that make the Clearfield High football head coaching job particularly difficult, from relatively low participation to a less-privileged demographic.
Carl Harry is well aware of these things as well as everything else that makes, and lately has made, CHS a hard place to win at.
But it doesn’t sound like he’s interested in letting those things hang over the team and affect it in any way.
Clearfield begins the 2022 season with Harry, a former college and NFL receiver, in charge. He’s the third different head coach in three years and called the offense for the Falcons last year.
Players have called Harry a good motivator. Motivation as a principle appears to be at the core of how Harry coaches.
“A student athlete is not going to be motivated, want to work for you, want to work for their teammates or even for themselves if you’re beating them up all the time, and criticizing, and yelling, and screaming. I’m an encourager, I’m a positive person and that’s what I want out here,” Harry said.
The other thing he wants is “100% effort” from every player in everything that they do.
“I want to uplift these young men. I need them to understand that football is a drop in the bucket, it’s a period of time where you have the privilege to play it. Tomorrow, next play, it’s not guaranteed so you give it your all at all times,” Harry said.
It’s easier said than done to motivate a football team that last had a winning season in 2004, before most of the players were born.
This year’s Clearfield team has three returning starters total from a team that went 1-10 and lost nine games in a row.
From having so many new starters, especially at vital positions, to bringing in new players out of the hallways, there’s a lot of the proverbial “coming together” that has to be done.
There’s also little continuity for the current seniors because Harry is the third different head coach in three years, following Andre Dyson in 2020 and Don Eck in 2021.
Dyson resigned at the end of 2020 and went back to Weber State, where he currently coaches cornerbacks. Eck was fired after last season.
It’s been whiplash for the current senior class.
“It’s been different having to deal with new coaches and new offenses every year, but I think this year is a little different, I can tell,” senior Gavin Travis said.
Optimism and the desire to turn back years of losing seasons is very much present no matter how hard it is.
Travis said there’s a mindset at the school that people don’t believe the football team can succeed because that’s been the status quo for two decades.
Senior receiver Tanner Hittle thinks Clearfield’s always been able to be good on the field, but it requires a shift in thinking.
“I feel like we can go out there and beat any team we want to, it’s just if we want to. Because in the past, we’ve went up against opponents and its been like, ‘Oh man we’re going against whoever,’ but if we don’t have that mindset, and we know who Clearfield is and realize we have the talents to go out and defeat our opponent, then we can do that. We just have to be in the right mindset,” he said.
Carl Harry is the new head coach and Uppsen Downes is the new defensive coordinator. Both were assistant coaches on the team last year.
Harry said the offensive line has a lot of size, and the players who don’t have size are fast and give “incredible” effort. Harry, who stands at about 5-foot-9, said he and the coaching staff had to recruit the school hallways to find some linemen.
“That was part of the recruiting in the school, when you’re walking through the halls and you’re like, ‘Who are you?’ And you’re looking up at them and you’re like, ‘OK, how I come don’t know you, what is your name, let’s talk,'” Harry said.
FACTS and FIGURES
2021 season: 1-10, 0-6 Region 1. After beating Bear River in week 2, things got tough quickly with all but one loss coming by double digits. CHS lost 27-0 at West Jordan in the first round of the playoffs.
2022 strength of schedule: 64-49 (.566). By virtue of Clearfield having the worst record in the region last year, the Falcons therefore have the toughest schedule. But the schedule actually sets up better than it could have. Clearfield has a brutal opener against West, then three straight winnable games — they’re all on the road, however — against Bear River, Roy and Fremont.
Players to watch: Tanner Hittle (WR), Jaxon Vincent (DB), Trace Hansen (S), Gavin Travis (TE/LB)
Returning starters: 1 offense, 2 defense
Tanner Hittle led the team in catches (33) and was second in receiving yards (424) last year. The receiving leader had 425 yards.
Clearfield’s last winning season was 2004 (6-5). Six of the 10 games this year are on the road including three of the first four.
Three different head coaches in three years is a tough hill to sled. Just ask the other two football programs in Davis County who’ve had this same situation recently.
Layton Christian went from Dru Jones (2018) to Fotu Katoa (2019) to Scott Feldman (2020) and went 1-9 in 2020. Woods Cross went from Andrew Fresques (2019) to Tyler Gladwell (2020) to Brody Benson (2021) and posted an 0-10 mark in 2021.
All games 7 p.m.
Aug. 12: West
Aug. 19: at Bear River
Aug. 26: at Roy
Sept. 2: at Fremont*
Sept. 9: Farmington*
Sept. 16: at Weber*
Sept. 23: Syracuse*
Sept. 30: Layton*
Thur., Oct. 6: at Brighton
Wed., Oct. 12: at Davis*
* — Denotes Region 1 game
Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.