By Danny C. Davis
Last season was a good season for the Clinton Arrow offense. CHS averaged 25 points a game, scoring 32 points or more seven times. But the players who produced almost all of those points, Jordyn Battee, Jakobe Calvin and Kyler Hutton, have all graduated and are now playing at the next level. Calvin carried for 1,392 yards of Clinton’s 2,681 yards rushing. Battee ran for 610 yards and passed for 931 yards and accounted for 17 touchdowns. The Arrows had 3,612 yards offense on 588 plays.
However, the feeling on Arrow Drive is that this year’s offense could be more productive than last year.
New Arrow transfer quarterback Sam Semi, 5’ 10“ and 190 pounds, could be the key to a productive year. Semi started at Class 6A Arlington Texas High School in the Dallas Metroplex area for two years. Semi is considered a duel threat passing and running.
Also, at running back, junior Jakobe Williams, 5’ 10” and 200 pounds, is expected to pick up where Jakobe Calvin left off after a three-year stellar career in the backfield.
Leading receiver Vashone Malone is back at wide receiver, and starting tight end Phillip Burchfield alone with an arsenal of eight other receivers should give Semi a lot of targets.
While the offensive line is young and may take a few games to gel, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Tyler Peterson feels good about the line and the entire offensive unit.
“The offensive line is inexperienced, but we have three seniors and two juniors and a senior starter that we feel good about,” said Peterson.
“Cayden Wilson, the senior lineman at 6’ 0” 230 pounds, is making the move from tackle,” said Peterson.
“We have a lot of chemistry as offensive linemen and have all played together since junior high,” said Wilson. “There are some changes this year, but we are a close group and feel we will be good.”
Clinton’s largest lineman is senior offensive center Devaughn Hubbard at 6’ 1” 330 pounds, who saw action as a junior at guard.
Right guard John Eargle, a senior at 6’ 2” 250 pounds, was a part time starter in 2022. Juniors Amaree Good 6’ 1”, 250 pounds, is the starter at left guard, and Terrell Elizenberry 6’ 0”, 250 pounds, will start at right tackle.
Adding depth to the offensive line and in the mix will be juniors Reese Watts, 6’ 0” 215 pounds, and Trace Tyson, 6’ 3”, 250 pounds.
“These guys have gotten bigger in the off season, and they are getting better at every rep,” said Peterson.
One area where the Arrows have a lot of depth is wide receiver. Malone, 6’ 3”, is a big target, but tight end Burchfield, 6’ 2” and 210 pounds, a junior, will also be a target lining up at wide receiver. Sophomore Jaiden Hollins, 5’ 9”, has been impressive in spring and summer and will see a lot of action at wide out. Also, junior Jordan Bracey, 5’ 11” and 180 pounds, a backup quarterback in 2022, will be counted on at wide receiver.
“Burchfield has really improved, and we will shift him over to wide receiver to play at times,” said new wide receiver coach Barrett Barham.
“I really feel good playing both positions,” said Burchfield. “I’ve just been getting reps at the slots and the H position and learning the outs.”
“Bracey is super athletic, and wide receiver is just a natural for him,” said Peterson. “We really feel good about those seven guys that they can play.”
Barham agreed. “It really helps that Semi is a very precise passer at quarterback. We feel we can throw the ball a lot.”
Big things are expected from Williams at running back, who played sparingly in 2022 but, when he got the chance, was productive. Also new in the backfield will be senior Mathew Magee, 5’ 10”, 175 pounds
“Jacoby Williams reminds us a lot of Jakobe Calvin from last year,” said Peterson. “He is a big physical back that runs hard, and Mathew Magee will see time in the backfield, also.”
“I am excited about the chance to play running back,” said Williams. “We feel we are going to be more balanced running and throwing with our quarterback and new receivers, so whatever it takes to move the football down the field, we are good with.”
Senior Brady Torrence will primarily play at defensive back but may see some action also in the backfield in certain situations.
Peterson said offense will mostly operate from a one back set this year, due the fact that the Arrows have so much talent at receiver.
Semi is considered a dual threat to throw or pull the ball down and run depending on what the defense shows.
“Sam has a lot of experience, so there will not be a big adjustment,” said Peterson. “He is a pure thrower but big enough and athletic enough that he is not scared to run it. He is, no question, a two-way threat for us.”
“Sam has adjusted well and is very accurate,” agreed Arrow quarterback coach Lee Martin. “We have the same type offense he was running in Texas, so it has been an easy adjustment. Only the terminology changed. And we have a good core of receivers for Sam to throw to this year.”
“It is a little different here,” said Semi. “But it has been good. I really like to pass the ball, but I am not afraid to put my foot in the ground to get up the field. I just need to be smart on what I do. My receivers and I are on the same page, and I feel very confident going into the first game that our offense is going to be good this year.”
Sophomore Josef Walker, 5’ 9”, 180 pounds, is projected to be the quarterback of the future for Clinton and was expected to share time with Semi early on, but suffered a tear in his non-throwing shoulder and will not be available until sometime in October.
“Josef is the same type guy as Sam, athletic with similar build,” said Peterson. “He is also a pure thrower and athletic with his legs, too.”
Overall, Peterson feels good about the Arrow offense.
“We feel like we are deeper across the board than last year, not as top heavy, but we have weapons across the field. Last, year people loaded the box and stopped us running. We feel like, this year, our quarterback is really accurate and makes the throws. When you have a guy that can throw it, then you do not have to depend so much on the run, like we did last year.”
The Arrows will be solid on special teams this year, with two-year starter and senior Hayden Wolfe returning as kicker and punter. Wolfe has had a very productive summer at kicking camps across the country and improved in accuracy and distance.
Also, two-year deep snapper senior Joseph Peabody is returning, and senior holder Creston Garlington returns.