Scroll to bottom of story to see Clearfield Felt's Facts
Note: Clearfield finished with a 2-8 overall record and 1-4 record in Region 6 in 2011. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.
CEARFIELD — Will Hawes was smack dab in the middle of a movie theater watching "Alvin and Chipmunks" with his 4-year old daughter during Christmas break.
That's when he got the call.
Clearfield High offered him his dream job — head coach of the school's football team.
“I disturbed the movie theater,” Hawes joked. “I used to tell myself driving on the freeway, 'One day I’m going to be that coach.'”
Now that he’s bossing the sidelines, a lot of work needs to be done to reenergize a stagnant program.
“We’re trying to get our guys in tune with the right mentality,” Hawes said. “We’re rebuilding the culture. The motto this year is, 'Return to excellence.' At one point this was one of the top programs in the state of Utah and that’s what we plan on returning to.”
In the 1990s, Clearfield captured region championships in 1992, '94 '96 and '98 and hoisted its lone state title in '92. In order to return to those successes, Hawes says the attitude and culture in all aspects needs changing.
“I’m a true believer if you don’t like the results you’ve got to change what you’re doing, and the results were losing seasons,” Hawes said. “Some people will say they didn’t have the athletes, didn’t have the attitude, but I’ve been in a program (at Layton Christian) for six years where I didn’t know what we were going to get until Aug. 1. We had to create culture every single football season with new guys.”
The first move at Clearfield was non-football related. Hawes challenged players during off-season workouts to improve academically. He wasn’t expecting straight 4.0 GPAs, but improvement was necessary.
“The first thing that I wanted to do was give them a sense of discipline and accountability. And that goes from the classroom, character and behavior to out in the community to their GPAs,” Hawes said. “One of the things we did is I pulled grades on the third term and had each player who was working out bring a white T-shirt and write their GPA across their chest.”
Hawes dedicated time to those who struggled to improve. Rather than physically working out, players broke mental sweats in study hall.
“If you were proud of it you stuck your chest out and flaunted it. If you weren’t proud of it, my request for them was to change it,” Hawes added. “We had quite a few young men that had crossed that GPA out and wrote a new one. It showed them that they could achieve what they set out for.”
The change has been felt. For the first time in many years, the anticipation for the 2012 Falcons is bursting.
“We plan on being competitive every Friday night. We’re not going to say that we need to be this and that we need to be that,” Hawes said. “What we need to do is show up every Friday night and compete for four quarters.
“I don’t want to speculate and say that we’re going to have a beautiful wedding cake. The ingredients are right, but you don’t know what that cake's going to look like until it comes out of the oven.”
Clearfield Falcons at a glance
Coach: Will Hawes enters his first season at Clearfield with a career record of 21-29 after six years at Layton Christian. A former Weber State player, he moved on to become an undergraduate assistant at WSU before stints at Ogden High and Weber High as an assistant.
(2 returning starters; Pro-set offense)
Clearfield is making the transition from a spread offense to a more convention pro-set scheme. Hawes described it as, “Nothing fancy — just old-fashioned football.”
Jayden Garcia, who primarily stared as the starting safety as a junior, is expected to see the majority of the carries in the backfield.
Elijah Toa, a versatile 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver that has the ability to play one-hand-down or on the hashes, will be the main target for quarterback Jordan Newby.
Esaia Soifua, a surprisingly nimble 315-pound fullback, should open large lanes in heavy sets near the pylons.
(3 returning starters; 4-3 defense)
In 2011 the Falcons ran a 3-3-5, but they’ll return to a more traditional style with four down linemen and three 'backers.
The depth is paper thin, but Lucas Cavazotti impressed coaches during summer camps at safety. His bash-brother in the secondary is junior Kelly Thorpe, a converted linebacker who's earned the reputation as a punishing hitter.
Coaches preseason Region 6 straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News Region 6 prediction: Fifth
Bottom line: Clearfield is on the right path to wins. However, winning doesn’t come easily and it could take a couple of seasons before results start to show. The Falcons open up with winnable games against Roy, Box Elder, Ogden and Bonneville, but once region play starts it’ll be much of the same as it's been recently for the Falcons.
Aug. 17 — at Roy, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 — at Box Elder, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — OGDEN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — HIGHLAND, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at Bountiful, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — WOODS CROSS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — at Cyprus, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — HERRIMAN, 7 p.m.
Felts Facts for Clearfield High School
All-time record: 234-276-4 (51 years)
Region championships: 8 (1975 co, 1976, 1984 co, 1992 co, 1994, 1996 co, 1998 co, 2002 co)
Playoff appearances: 25
All-time playoff record: 15-24
State championships: 1 (1992)
State championship record: 1-0
Most played rivalry: 49 meetings with Davis dating back to 1961. Davis leads 26-22-1. Last met in 2010.
Felt’s Factoid(s): No one has played more overtimes than Clearfield, 23, including five against Layton and three against Weber. ... The Falcons hold the state record (tied with Grantsville) for season interceptions with 33, set in 2002.
Clearfield coaching history
2012-Current — Will HawesComment on this story
2009-2011 — Jeff Bingham (8-22)
2006-2008 — Billy Plium (10-22)
1991-2005 — Randy Johnson (100-64)
1988-1990 — Brent Lund (12-18)
1977-1987 — Brent Hancock (49-61)
1969-1976 — Jack Hannum(37-40)
1965-1968 — Don Jenson (7-30)
1961-1964 — Boyd "Tiny" Grant (10-21)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2003 — Terrence Stanton, LB
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.
High school football: Clearfield Falcons 2012 preview