Meridian Star

Sports

July 8, 2014

Clarkdale football seeks turnaround

CLARKDALE —  The Clarkdale High School football team arrived to the school’s campus in the early hours of the morning Monday.

    The players lifted weights, performed agility and speed drills, and concluded the session with a series of sprints to end the morning workouts.

    “It’s a struggle getting up this early in the morning,” senior outside linebacker Dontae Shelby said. “But this is what prepares you for what’s down the road in the fall. You have to get it done here (in workouts), so you can get it done out there (the football field).”

    Shelby, along with four other Bulldog seniors, have the added motivation of potentially being remembered as the class that contributed to the rejuvenation of the Clarkdale football program around.

    In Shelby’s high school tenure, the Bulldogs have managed just one win, including 0-11 records the last two seasons.

    “It’s been a challenge,” Shelby said. “But you have to put your mind to the challenge and keep telling yourself that it has to start somewhere and that it starts with you.  I’m focused on turning it around for this year and going out with a winning season.”

    Added coach Wes Roy, “Our seniors have done a great job. They’ve led by example; they’re here every day and set the tone. They get after people when they need to. They are doing the things that they need to do and what the younger kids need to do.”

    Roy has been with the program for 11 years, and is entering his second year as head coach.

    “The past few years have been tough,” Roy said. “There’s no magic pill for the turnaround. You’ve just got to get in here and work, and the kids have always worked hard. It has never been a matter of not working hard. The main thing that we’re really harping on is staying together, and the kids have a great attitude and have been working their tail off.”

    With a year under his belt, Roy is hopeful that his team’s identity begins to take shape in the mold of his coaching philosophy.

    “We want to be a physical team that is in shape and in top condition,” Roy said. “We want to be a team that’s going to play you tough for four quarters and we want to continue to fight through adversity throughout the game. We want to be a physical, four quarter football team that people don’t want to play.”

    And Shelby, along with the rest of his Bulldog teammates, understand that personality and character is something achieved in the dog days of summer.

    “We’ve been working hard this offseason,” Shelby said. “We’ve made strides and I think people are going to see a lot of improvement this fall.”

    Despite Clarkdale’s recent struggles, Shelby and Roy, along with the rest of the Bulldogs, have a foundation of confidence they can build on, having defeated Stringer High School in their spring game, 22-18.

    “That was a huge boost for us going into the offseason,” Roy said. “It was a great win for the kids, because we haven’t had a ton of success, and maybe now they know they can do it and it can lead to more success down the road.”

    Added Shelby, “It felt great to get a win. It makes me feel like we’re moving ahead and we’re going in the right direction. It tells me we are one step closer to where we want to be.”

    Ultimately, Roy and the Bulldogs are focused on what they can control, which includes continually grinding through the rigorous summer days in an attempt to steer the program in a positive direction.

    “We are trying to build a culture and philosophy where you are willing to fight through adversity,” Roy said. “We’re not worried what everyone else is doing. We’re concerned about ourselves and how we can get better. We feel good about where we are. We’ve had a great summer and we’re averaging over 30 kids out here every day working to get better.

    “If we stay together and keep working, things will turn around.”

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