Colors: Red, Blue, Gray
Head Coach: Jim Clarkson (18th season) (85-82 career record)
2016 record: 3-6 (lost to Nebraska City Lourdes in first round of playoffs)
Returning Starters: 5
The Clarkson/Leigh Football team is coming off a 3-6 season in which they made the playoffs. Head Coach Jim Clarkson says his team is experienced and fast, but not very big. “We did get a lot of experience this last year so I think we have I think about 5 starters, I think about on each side of the ball, 5-6 kids that at least played quite a bit. So yeah a little bit thinner…our offensive line will be a little smaller than we’re used to, but we have some good speed, and we really got a good group of guys so hopefully we’ll be able to compete.”
The Patriots are also low on numbers this year, and have to replace Bradley Bunner, who was lost to graduation.
Clarkson/Leigh begins the season on Friday, August 25th with a home game against Pender. Clarkson says the game figures to be a toss up and dog fight. “Yeah we really think it’s a pretty even fight it looks like on paper. We actually saw them at summer camp this year. Just from our knowledge of them and we’re very similar type teams. They got a little bit better size than us, but yeah I think it’s a very important game for us, and probably for them as well. So I expect to have a donnybrook right there to open the season, and our kids are excited for that first game.”
The Patriots won last year’s game 58-50.
Clarkson/Leigh is seeking their 6th consecutive playoff appearance. Clarkson says the road won’t be easy given who’s in his team’s district. “Our District is very solid. I know Neligh-Oakdale lost a lot of guys, but they’re very well coached, and Coach Beacom really has a really unique system up there, and they do a very good job. And of course then there’s Howells-Dodge, they’re our rivals to the East of us here. They look pretty loaded. We’re in for a rough go, but again our guys aren’t going to back down from the fight, and we’ll coach them up, and hopefully we’ll be able to maybe sneak out a win or two, and maybe we can get a chance at the playoffs. But we got to win some of those games…some of those coin toss games. Like the Pender game for example. Those are going to be very important if we want to have any shot at seeing the postseason.”
Clarkson/Leigh is in District D1-4 with Howells-Dodge, Neligh-Oakdale, Elgin Public/Pope John, and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.
The Patriots ended last season with a 52-8 loss at Nebraska City Lourdes in the first round of the playoffs.