FB Preview -- Blazers add new ingredients to mix in 2009

September 02, 2009|By MARK KELLER/

The loss of last year's leading rusher is often a troubling proposition for a high school football coach.

Clear Spring coach Craig Bathgate doesn't see the move of senior Ken Bosic -- the Blazers' leading rusher in 2008 -- from the backfield to the offensive line as troubling.

In fact, he sees the move as a sign that Clear Spring now has something it hasn't in its five previous seasons of varsity football: Options.

"We have good numbers this year. There are about 50 kids in the program," said Bathgate, who is in his third season at Clear Spring. "The junior football program helps and the seniors have been good about pushing the younger kids to get into the weight room.


"We're not the deepest team, but you still can only put 11 kids out there at a time."

Bosic's move to the line came about with the return of fullback Jon Connors -- who missed most of last season with a variety of injuries -- and the arrival of tailback Wes Jackson, a senior transfer from North Hagerstown.

The sudden depth in the backfield led Bathgate to suggest a possible shift in duties for Bosic.

"I just told him I'd do whatever helps the team out," Bosic said.

"(Bosic) wasn't a speed back, but on the line he looks fast," Bathgate said. "What he did was completely selfless, and that kind of leadership is what we've been looking for."

Jackson gives the Blazers speed in the backfield like they have never had before. With Connors as a lead blocker and Bosic and 6-foot-5, 300-pounder Doug Morgan on the line, there should be more running room than Clear Spring backs have ever had before, too.

"That speed should allow us a lot more options. We won't have to be a tackle-to-tackle team," Bathgate said. "We'll have a couple plays that could be breakaways. When we get into the open field now, we'll have a shot at breaking some."

Junior Sam Adams -- who started the last five games last season -- and sophomore Adam Mellott were engaged in a quarterback competition in camp, giving Bathgate even more options.

"They're both sound mechanical quarterbacks," he said. "Competition is a good thing."

The Blazers will operate out of a 4-4 defensive set, with Bosic and Andy Jarvis minding the middle from the linebacker position. Connors will move from an outside linebacker position to defensive end, giving the Blazers another force on the line along with Morgan.

"I think we're stronger defensively, we have a better sense of the defense," Bosic said. "We're definitely stonger. There are a lot more guys in the weight room. That helps out during the season."

After winning just three games in its first five seasons, Clear Spring was permitted to drop out of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League for a minimum of two years to allow the program to get on its feet.

Bathgate said that move should help him overcome what has been his biggest challenge at Clear Spring -- changing the mindset of the players and the community.

"I think it relieves a lot of pressure," Bathgate said. "There's been a lot of thinking in the past with the teams we've played that Clear Spring can't beat them. It'll be nice for them to go and not have the outcome in their heads as soon as they get on the field."

Click here for Clear Spring football roster and schedule.

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