Coyotes On the Cusp of Greatness
The Clarksburg High School football team enters the 2015 season having reached the postseason four times in its nine seasons as a program, including consecutive playoff appearances in 2013-14. The Coyotes (7-4 in 2014), who fell to Quince Orchard by one touchdown in last year’s Class 4A West Region semifinals, have perennially posed a threat to top teams. But this fall coach Larry Hurd, Jr. said he and his charges feel like they are right on the cusp of being one of those very top programs in Montgomery County and Maryland.
“We’ve got to have some results that can confirm that but we feel like that’s where we’re at,” Hurd said. “As a public school team, you go through maybe some ups and downs, but this is the 10th year the school has been open and the majority of the years we have been very successful. We feel very proud of what we built.”
Still, Hurd said, every year is something new. And while the Coyotes’ offense will work behind a rather experienced line, led by Zach Fiscus (6-foot-1, 260 pounds) and Pat Shifflett (6-2, 250), Clarksburg is primarily operating with first-year varsity starters in the skill positions. The Coyotes return only five players on offense and four on defense. But Hurd said he is confident this next generation of players is ready to continue Clarksburg’s ascension.
“I’m really excited,” Hurd said. “These kids happened to be behind a class with a lot of great athletes. They waited their turns, had two great years on junior varsity, and should be pumped up and ready to go. I think they can be competitive with whomever.”
Though Clarksburg graduated one of the county’s strongest running backs, its traditionally strong ground game should remain fully intact with multifaceted returning player Javon Gordon (6-1, 185) leading the way. But the Coyotes will in no way be one dimensional. Senior Hunter Reimers (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) will take over under center and is quite a cerebral quarterback, Hurd said. And he has plenty of talented options to choose from, including slot receiver Stanley Perry.
“We always cater to [our personnel], we have to develop our offense with what we have and I feel like we can be very balanced,” Hurd said. “I always like to run the ball and establish the run but we have a quarterback that can throw and lots of receivers out there who can make plays.”
Clarksburg’s multi-front defense is propelled by overall speed and the arrival of safeties Ian Krishnan (6-3, 185) and Delante Simmons (6-3, 190), two players from Clarksburg’s basketball team who Hurd said have Division I potential, add another dimension. The two should also be playmakers at wide receiver.
The Coyotes, who will compete in the Montgomery 4A North Division with two-time defending state champion Northwest, Gaithersburg, Richard Montgomery and Wootton, open their season with a winnable game Friday at Churchill (6-4 in 2014). But Hurd and his team knows better than to take any opponent for granted, he said. While the Bulldogs might not be of the same caliber as the teams Clarksburg has opened with the past six seasons – Seneca Valley, Quince Orchard and Damascus – and are under new leadership, they boast potentially one of the county’s strongest running backs in Andrew Zuckerman.
“Churchill is one heck of a team, we never play a pushover in Week 1,” Hurd said. “[Zuckerman] is a very good running back. He’s strong. Bruising.”
By Week 4, Clarksburg is scheduled to have played perennial postseason contenders Sherwood and Quince Orchard. Looming ahead just after that are Frederick County power Urbana and Gaithersburg, perennially one of Montgomery County’s most competitive teams that is rumored to be much improved this fall.
“Every game we play is a tough game, there is no week we can take off and we understand that and accept the challenge,” Hurd said. “We can talk about a schedule all we want but it’s not going to change. Every Sunday we’re going to meet as a coaching staff and come up with a plan and prepare for Friday. We will do that 10 times and see how we do.”
Caption: The Clarksburg Coyotes are hoping a new crop of seniors can get the program back into the playoffs for a third straight season.
File photo by Germantown Pulse