Football 2014: Clearwater Indians
Clearwater has two quarterbacks, but only one actually plays quarterback.
That player is senior Hunter Hall, who has earned recruiting attention from Kansas State and Emporia State. His mirror image is linebacker Landon Smith, who possesses many of the same leadership traits and has been recruited by Iowa State and Minnesota.
The Indians don’t appear to have much more potential Division I talent, but they do have foundational players on offense and defense.
“We’re probably going to go as far as those guys can take us,” Clearwater coach Dirk Ankerholz said. “I hate saying that, but they’re definitely going to be our leaders on both sides of the ball.”
Hall’s physical attributes are enough to see why he has made contact with high-profile programs. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Hall has the size and strength not shared by many of his peers.
Hall supplements those qualities with a magnetic personality and a dedication to football that he matches in other walks of life.
“Both on the field and off the field, just a great kid all the way around,” Ankerholz said. “Lives and breathes football. Good student in the classroom, good person, citizenship-wise. Then, on the football field, he leads by example. He’s in the weight room all the time, he rallies the other kids around him a little bit.”
Smith, a 6-1, 220-pound senior, offers the same physicality and charisma as Hall, though perhaps with more of the edge needed from someone who chases the ball on every play.
Smith guides the defense in a similar way as Hall steers the offense, by noticing patterns and trends that he can exploit.
“He understands and has a great feel for the game,” Ankerholz said. “As the game develops, he gets better and better. He gets a really good feel as the game goes on, and he anticipates well. He covers a lot of ground, too, which is a very good thing.”
Hall and Smith will have to do their damage, at least early, without a proven offensive line, which features one returning starter. Ankerholz is figuring out how to balance dynamic skill players with inexperienced linemen.
“We’re going to give it our best shot,” Ankerholz said. “When you’ve got a lot of skill players, you have to try to spread the field, of course, and try to get those guys into some open spaces where they can do what they do physically.”
A LOOK AT CLEARWATER
Coach: Dirk Ankerholz, sixth season, 25-22
League: AV-CTL Division II
Last season: 5-4
Last five seasons: 25-22
Projected 2014 playoff team? No
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|Sept. 5||at Scott City|
|Sept. 19||at Mulvane|
|Sept. 26||at Wellington|
|Oct. 17||at Haven|
|Oct. 24||at Andale|
|Oct. 31||Trinity Academy|
Hunter Hall on his team
What Clearwater does well: “Everybody was in the weight room this summer. They really busted their butt. … On offense, all of our skill (positions), we returned almost everybody from last year.”
What has to improve: “I think we might be changing offenses a little bit, so we’ll need to catch on there. Our (offensive) line worked hard, but they are still young, so that could be a factor.”