Note: Clearfield finished with a 2-8 overall record in 2013 and was seventh in Region 6 with an 0-6 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.
CLEARFIELD — One of the greatest players in the history of Clearfield High's football program has returned to take the coaching reins at his alma mater. And he's determined to help these low-flying Falcons get off the ground and soar to glory again like they once did.
Andre Dyson, who graduated from CHS in 1997 and went on to star at the University of Utah and the National Football League as a defensive back, is the Falcons' first-year head coach, and he inherits a program that hasn't had a winning season since 2004.
He knows it won't be easy, and he knows it'll take some time to turn things around. But as is his nature, Dyson isn't backing down from this difficult challenge.
"I'm always confident, but it's just going to be a work in progress and we're just trying to get everybody on the same page," he said after a recent practice session. "It's coming along slowly, but hopefully it'll start picking up once we hit the big time so to speak — Friday nights — and we understand the severity of how to focus, how to play hard, how to play fast. We're getting there, but it's gonna take time.
"There's potential here. The whole thing's gonna be about mentality. When you've been down so long and people have told you that you couldn't, you start to believe it. So my biggest challenge is to get these kids to believe that they can. That's what's going to be the biggest thing — just try to believe, believe, believe. ... I believe in my heart that we can play with anyone and we can beat anyone, but obviously what's most important is that they believe in that.
"That's gonna take me pushing them and encouraging them and hopefully getting instilled in them and in the community to believe in what you're doing and let everything else fall into place," Dyson said. "Don't worry about all the outside stuff and just believe in yourself. It starts with that. If you don't believe in yourself, who will?"
Dyson certainly believes in himself, and he has a firm belief that the Falcons' program can rise back up and be competitive again.
He looks at neighboring schools Northridge, Layton and Syracuse and the success they've had over the last eight to 10 years, and he sees no reason why Clearfield can't do the same thing.
"The talent's there; there's high schools right around the corner with the same kids," Dyson said. "They grew up in the same area, played in the same rec leagues, played against you all the time, and the difference is mentality to me. Northridge and Syracuse and Layton have the same kids, it's just a different mentality. Those kids have been winning, and somehow they've figured out a way to be confident and they believe that they can win and they've won. So to me, that's a mentality issue. To say you can't win at Clearfield, to me, that's an excuse.
"I don't think there's a bunch of kids in this area or in this state that are going to be going to the Florida States and Floridas. ... It's not like you're going to have 10 or 11 Division I prospects on your team. You might have one or two, but one or two doesn't make you better.
"Eleven guys make you better, and hopefully we can get them to understand that," he said. "Eleven guys at once, 11 guys at a time, 11 guys coming together and playing as one, and everyone on the sideline pulling together, everyone's like a family. The sky's the limit, and anything is possible. That's what I'm trying to teach these guys — that anything is possible."
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