BELLVILLE — Tradition and excellence. Those two words describe Clear Fork football.
After last fall’s perfect regular season, capped by a 41-14 win against Marion Harding, the Colts made a solid playoff run. They beat Lorain Clearview 44-0 in the first round.
The stellar season ended the following week at Arlin Field, a 21-13 loss to Bellevue in a Division IV regional semifinal game that avenged a Week 2 overtime win by the Colts.
The 11-1 season was historic.
“We won 11 football games, something that has never been done in Clear Fork history,” head coach Dave Carroll said following the game.
The Colts were 7-0 in their first year as a member of the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference. The regular season included several last-minute victories, a field goal of 33 yards by Sloan Bowman gave CF a 23-20 win over Buckeye Valley.
The real electricity took place at Marion Pleasant High School in Week 9 before a standing-room-only crowd. Clear Fork rallied from a 14-0 deficit in the game’s final four minutes to stun the previously unbeaten Spartans, 20-17, in overtime.
Carroll, entering his 10th season at the school, credited his 11 seniors for turning around a program that had gone 4-6, 3-7 and 3-7 the three previous seasons.
Heading into this season, he cites backfield experience as a strength.
Jerad Schaefer and Brennan Smith are quarterback candidates, with Trevon Trammell and Collin Crider, 5-10, 155 junior, leading the charge at running back.
Trammell is a 6-1, 180-pound senior and was first team defense all-MOAC in 2017.
“We want to give great effort and compete every day,” Carroll said. He thinks perennial power Pleasant and Buckeye Valley will compete atop the league.
“Hopefully, we will be in the mix,” he said.
Carroll stresses team chemistry and “everyone buying in, competitiveness, physical and mental toughness.”
Newcomers who could make an impact this season include Jay Swainhart, 5-11, 200, at H-back and linebacker; Justin Homerock at slot back and corner and Crider at running back.
Brennan South will compete at QB and free safety.
Lucas Kern, Caden Flynn, AJ Blubaugh and Brady Tedrow are WR hopefuls, with Gabe Blauser and Tacoma Orr at tight end.
Blauser also handles kicking chores.
Across the front lines the Colts boast size.
Junior center Jordan Grey, 5-11, 185, guards Blake Miller, 5-11, 230, Randall Crawford and James Watts, 6-1, 250, and senior tackles Michael Chillemi, 6-2, 265, and Hunter Tollison are anchors.
On defense look for Chillemi, Watts, Miller and junior Kolby Huvler, 6-1, 220, at end, with Tollison, 6-2, 295, and Crawford, 5-11, 230, at nose guard.
Linebackers will be Trammell, Blauser, Dylan Belcher and Jack Harris on the outside and Swainhart, Orr and Brady Au inside.
Clear Fork will operate from a spread offense and a base 3 and 4 on defense.
The Colts host Fredericktown on Friday at 7 p.m. Clear Fork topped the Freddies 27-6 last year.
They are led by Beau Wolford, former head coach at Cardington. The Freddies finished 5-5 in 2017, losing to five OHSAA playoff teams.