CLEAR SPRING — Blocking and tackling are usually the most important things in football.
Clear Spring knows those techniques will take them places. But they add two more factors on their list — health and prayer.
Coach Craig Bathgate admits he’s pretty happy with the team he has taking the field for the 2013 season, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for a safety net or two.
“We have to pray to stay healthy and we have to play iron man style,” he said.
Health is important when you only have 25 players on the roster. And it is more important when you need 22 to play — 11 starters on each side of the ball.
Like most teams, the Blazers will have players playing both ways. But Clear Spring is forced to tax its players a little more.
“We have a whole lot of guys learning to play two to three positions,” Bathgate said.
That’s iron man style.
The core of the Blazers comes down to eight returning players — four or five on each side of the ball — and eight seniors. Some of those are coming back after injuries in 2012.
“We are definitely stronger in the younger numbers,” Bathgate said. “We had 16 juniors last year, but only eight came back as seniors. They are good leaders, but there is a new attitude that comes with the younger players. They all work hard and play hard.”
Jacob Brant returns as the leader of Clear Spring’s pack at quarterback, where the Blazers will need the most poise and leadership.
“Jake has some experience, but injuries kept him out a good part of last season,” Bathgate said. “He’s a very good leader.”
Brant will be running a new version of offense this season, a style which features a 50-50 split in runs and passes. It has changed the positions of some and added a diversity to spread the field.
“The system is part of what we did last year,” Bathgate said. “It’s kind of like the spread that the Redskins and Oregon ran. We want it to be uptempo with a lot of quick strikes.”
Two players who have moved are Damien Poet and Jordan Gladden, who each played as fullbacks last season but will get much of the work at tailback, calling for slicker and quicker runs.
“It’s going to be running back by committee,” Bathgate said.
One of the assests for the Blazers is their offensive line, anchored by sophomore Joey Fisher at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. Fisher played line as a freshman and is bigger, stronger and more intense than a year ago.
Jacob Menard and Kevin Thacker will joining Fisher on the line while many others will receive playing time.
Brant’s primary receiving target will be Collin Schultz, while Glendon Mills will get work at tight end and in the slot. Other targets will be Travis Commer, Brandon Blair and Jared Barnes.
“We have a lot of kids who can catch the ball this year,” Bathgate said. “It’s been fun to watch.”
The Blazers will stay with their 4-4 defensive set, anchored by Poet and Gladden as linebackers and Fisher as a defensive end.
“We are expecting a lot of big things from (Fisher),” Bathgate said. “Many teams will have to try and double-team him, which should open things up for the other guys. He’s going to make some noise this year.”
Senior Nick Lewis will be an outside linebacker.
“He has a lot of speed out there,” Bathgate said. “That will give us three senior linebackers and that’s a big plus.”
Schultz returns at safety while Commer and Blair will play the corners.
“I’m more than happy with our starting 11, but injuries make it scary,” Bathgate said.
Clear Spring plays only four home games on this year’s schedule — Northern Garrett, Petersburg, East Hardy and Hancock. Travel is at a minimum with the aim of being competitive.
“We are trying to play as close to home as we can and against teams we can play with,” Bathgate said. “We are still playing Smithsburg, Brunswick and Williamsport, but we have no business playing North and South Hagerstown.
“We were successful a couple of years ago and were in the playoff chase. It was a lot of excitement and momentum here. If we can stay healthy, I like our chances every week.”
Date, Opponent, Time
Sept. 7, at Saint James, 2:30
Last season: Saint James, 21-19
Sept. 12, at Brunswick, 7
Last season: Brunswick, 45-20
Sept. 20, vs. Petersburg, 7
Sept. 27, vs. Hancock, 7
Last season: Clear Spring, 22-0
Oct. 5, vs. Northern Garrett, 7
Last season: Northern Garrett, 14-6
Oct. 11, at Smithsburg, 7
Last season: Smithsburg, 7-6
Oct. 18, at Berkeley Springs, 7:30
Last season: Clear Spring, 47-6
Oct. 25, at Spring Mills, 7
Nov. 1, vs. East Hardy, 7
Last season: East Hardy, 58-7
Nov. 8, at Williamsport, 7
Last season: Williamsport, 32-7
No., Name, Class, Pos., Ht., Wt.
2, Austin Hott, Jr., WR-DB, 5-11, 165
4, Travis Commer, Jr., WR-DB, 6-0, 145
7, Glendon Mills, Jr., WR-DE, 6-2, 160
10, Jacob Brant, Sr., QB-DB, 5-10, 165
12, Brandon Blair, Jr., WR-DB, 5-9, 155
15, Henry Eby, Jr., QB-DB, 5-11, 170
20, Jordan Gladden, Sr., RB-LB, 5-9, 200
21, Richard Heines, Jr., RB-LB, 5-8, 165
23, Jared Barnes, Soph., RB-LB, 6-0, 165
27, Zane Edwards, Sr., RB-LB, 5-8, 160
31, Nick Lewis, Sr., RB-LB, 5-10, 170
32, Joe McCoy, Fr., RB-LB, 5-8, 165
33, Damien Poet, Sr., RB-LB, 5-9, 170
35, Nick Spigler, Jr., WR-DB, 5-11, 155
41, Travis Capezuto, Jr., RB-LB, 5-7, 180
44, Tyler Stine, Sr., WR-DB, 5-11, 170
51, Garrett Moats, Soph., OL-DL, 6-1, 195
53, Joey Fisher, Soph., OL-DE, 6-4, 235
55, Jacob Menard, Jr., OL-DL, 5-8, 220
57, Zach Kline, Jr., OL-DL, 6-4, 210
60, Tyler Repp, Jr., OL-DL, 5-11, 205
66, Wes Ambrose, Jr., OL-DL, 6-1, 260
74, Kevin Thacker, Sr., OL-LB, 5-10, 200
77, Sam Potterfield, Jr., OL-DL, 6-3, 205
81, Collin Schultz, Sr., WR-DB, 6-4, 165