HANOVERTON, Ohio – (WKBN) – The 2016 season hasn’t gone quite as United Eagles coach Michael Demster had planned. After starting the season with an impressive 38-20 win over Malvern, the Eagles have loss four of their last five games, finding themselves with a disappointing 2-4 record.
Unfortunately, much like last season the Eagles have suffered numerous injuries, forcing them to play some of their underclassmen and losing some of their continuity.
One player that Demster has been able to count on this season has been senior receiver and free safety Jake Clark. Clark leads the Eagles with 96 receiving yards on 10 receptions and two touchdowns on a team that has been heavily run oriented. He also serves on the kickoff return team and has amassed 67 yards, while also making 14 tackles from his safety position on defense.
Clark has been a four-year letter winner for the Eagles, so he has become a player Demster can rely on.
“This is my third year being on the varsity field. When you are out on the field, you just learn stuff,” Clark said.
“Jake’s one of those kids you know he has played a lot of football,” Demster remarked. “You can just tell by watching him just by the way he picks things up so quickly, but Jake is also a very athletic kid. I can put him anywhere in the back seven, probably any skill position too and he would be successful. We’re looking to get him the football as much as we can.”
“I watch college football, pro football on TV and you pick up a lot of stuff if you don’t do that. You got to do that to pick up the little things and improve your IQ the best you can,” Clark added. “Film study is very important. If you don’t put that into your game your going to struggle. You have to recognize formations and tendencies of teams so watching film is a huge part (of the game).”
“That’s something he has really progressed in my two years since I have been here,” Demster said. “Learning not just watching the ball. A lot guys when they watch film are just watching the ball. But now it is becoming learning to break down defenses and offenses, learning what their tendencies are, see what they are trying to accomplish and how we are trying to prevent it. So he is getting very good in that aspect of the game.”
With the experience Clark has gained, he has become an extension of the coaching staff at United.
“When your at the free safety position you have to relay coverages, where people are suppose to be and making sure people are in the right places. So it’s pretty fun,” he said.
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“Our three seniors, plus a handful of juniors are that way in that they eat, sleep, and breath it,” Demster said of his players on field presence. “They are very in tune to what we are trying to do. They understand the system and they are those extra coaches on the field that every coach wants to have.”
Jake, the only child of Brad and Shelly Clark, is hoping to become a physical therapist after his playing days on the gridiron are over. He is undecided on which college he is going to attend after graduating United High School as he evaluates what college will be the best for him and his family.