Colors: Red, Blue, Gray
Head Coach: Jim Clarkson (82-76 career record)
2015 record: 8-2 (lost to Creighton in Second Round of Playoffs)
Returning Starters: 1
The Clarkson/Leigh Patriots hope last year’s success leads to more success this season.
Clarkson/Leigh returns just one starter in Bradley Bunner (6’1 175 Moving to QB and Safety Senior).
Head Coach Jim Clarkson says as long as his team avoids the injury bug, they should be competitive. “Will be low on numbers so we will need to remain healthy. If that hold true I think we will be able to compete in our schedule and District. Bunner is a dynamic athlete, and we have some hungry players who have waited their turn.”
Here are the Patriots’ projected starters:
Offense: Brad Bunner –QB, Blake Paprocki – RB, Jacob Gall-RB, Anthony Bruhn – TE, Connor Brandt-TE, Dan Ariazza – G, Alex Machmueller – C, and Paxten Indra -G.
Defense: Alex Machmueller – NG, Connor Brandt – DE, Paxten Indra – DE, Anthony Bruhn – LB, Haden Held – LB, Derek Gurnsey – CB, Hector Mendoza – CB, Brad Bunner – S.
Clarkson says his team has a lot of players to replace from last year. “We lost a lot of good players from last years team, including the whole offensive and defensive lines.”
Clarkson/Leigh hopes this season treats them just as well as last season did. “The hope is that we have building a solid foundation, I agree last years team did pop some record wise, but we feel that our culture and program are solid and when it is their time the kids will perform at a higher level. This year will be as good test to that.”
Clarkson says the offseason was good. “We have had a strong offseason, again our culture dictates that the kids will put in the time during the offseason. We also competed very well in our team camp down at Hastings College despite missing 4 guys with injuries at the time.”
Clarkson says the Pender and GACC games will allow for his team to be ready right away. “It is definitely a tough task, but it also really helps focus the kids knowing they will be punched in the mouth right away, so seeing how we react and compete with those teams will go a long way in setting the tone for the season.”
After Pender and GACC, the Patriots take on Omaha Nation.
Clarkson/Leigh takes a trip to East Butler and battles Neligh-Oakdale at home midseason.
Clarkson/Leigh is at Elgin Public/Pope John before taking on Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family and Howells Dodge on at home and on the road, respectively, to end the regular season.
Clarkson feels his team has the potential to compete in their district. “As wins and losses go this is a very tough thing to predict, I feel we have one of the best players in the state in Bunner, there is no doubt he is special, if our other guys step their games up and we stay healthy I think we can be a factor in the district race.”
Clarkson feels the district is up for grabs for the most part. “A tough and fairly even district on paper, I would say Neligh-Oakdale has the most returning and seem to be the favorite, after that I really think it is a crap shoot. Howells-Dodge and Humphrey-Holy Family are very well coached and have some nice players returning, Elgin Public/Pope John, had a great year last year but like us graduated about everybody. So it will be fun to see how it all plays out.”
Bob Jensen of the Huskerland Prep Report says Clarkson/Leigh has a lot of holes to fill. “They’re going to have to fill in a lot of the blank spots there if you will, but again Jim Clarkson’s a really good coach, a guy that’s been in the state final, he knows how the whole thing’s supposed to work. It’s just you’re going to have people with their first chance of playing varsity football.”
The Patriots open up the season at Pender on Friday in a game that can be heard on 107.9 the Bull.
Jim Clarkson’s District Rankings:
4. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
5. Elgin Public/Pope John
2016 Clarkson/Leigh Patriots Football Schedule:
08/26/16 @ Pender
09/02/16 Guardian Angels Central Catholic
09/16/16 Omaha Nation
09/23/16 @ East Butler
10/07/16 @ Elgin Public/Pope John
10/14/16 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
10/21/16 @ Howells-Dodge