High school football: Clearfield Falcons 2011 preview

Published: Monday, Aug. 1 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

Billy Thorpe, Clearfield

Clearfield High School

Note: Clearfield finished with a 3-7 overall record and a 1-7 mark in Region 1. It did not qualify for the 5A state playoffs.

CLEARFIELD — A new era is about to begin for Clearfield High School's athletic teams.

This year, the Falcons find themselves reclassified into the 4A ranks, dropping down from 5A, and they've been moved into a newly aligned Region 6, where they're the northernmost school in a league which also includes Bountiful, Woods Cross, Cyprus, East and Highland, the defending 4A football champion.

Third-year Clearfield head football coach Jeff Bingham figures it's about time for the Falcons to start a new winning tradition on the gridiron, too.

"The thing I'm excited about is this group of senior kids only won two games as sophomores, but they won four games last year as juniors, and they have worked their butts off in the weight room," Bingham said. "They have gotten stronger, plus they're a really, really tight-knit group of kids. There's an unselfishness about them that I really like, which is good for a team, and I'm excited about that. They know how to compete and they don't back down.

"When it gets tough, they bow up a little bit and get after it. I'm excited about that," he said. "And if our kids start winning some games early in the season and getting some confidence ..."

Hey, who knows what might happen?

Leading the way for the Falcons' pistol offense this season will be senior quarterback Connor Parry, who played every down on the junior varsity squad last season and appears ready to step into the starting role for the varsity.

"He's one of our captains and has a great arm," Bingham said. "He's never played a down of varsity ball. We got into our camp and the first few downs in a live-scrimmage situation were pretty tense. But he settled down, and I think he's gonna be all right. He does have a gun. ... Connor's going to be the man right now."

One of the Falcons' strengths this season is a solid group of running backs featuring seniors Patrick Brock, Spencer Fronberg and Halen Strong and a pair of promising juniors, Jayden Garcia and Braxton Rogers.

"We have a really good corps of running backs," Bingham said. "Those two juniors were both in our camp we had over the summer, and I was impressed with both of them. They both have some instinctive stuff. So I feel really good at our tailback position."

Bingham is also counting heavily on wide receiver Logan Rusch, who could also run the option on offense.

Up front, offensive guard Billy Thorpe returns after emerging as one the Falcons' best linemen last year.

"He'll have a great year this year," Bingham said of Thorpe. "He has good feet and moves really well. We pull a lot in our running game, and he gets around the corner and goes. He started almost every game for us last year."

Austin Haynie also returns after seeing some time as a starter at tight end last season.

"We get into a lot of different formations out of our offense," Bingham said. "We try to keep things balanced in our pistol; we try to keep things honest both ways.

"Obviously, there are some teams that you need to throw it more against and some teams you need to run it more against, but I've always tried to keep it as balanced as possible. If you go too much one way or the other and get that shut down, you're done."

Defensively, free safety A.J. Brower, one of the most athletic kids on the team, joins Thorpe and senior linebackers Gabe Leota and Jared Egbert in leading the way for a squad which has switched to a 3-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Robbins.

A pair of juniors, 280-pound lineman Esia Soifua and tight end/linebacker Elijah Toa, are also being counted on to contribute.