Maysville's Clarke earns AP Division III coaching honor

Maysville's Clarke earns AP Division III coaching honor

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Maysville's Clarke earns AP Division III coaching honor

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COLUMBUS

Craig Clarke pulled the proverbial rabbit from his hat with Maysville football this season.

Despite taking over the program with less than two months before the season started, Clarke directed the Panthers to a 9-1 record and the school’s first playoff appearance. Their record was their first season of more than six wins in 18 years.

He was honored by the Associated Press, who named him Co-Coach of the Year in Division III as part of their Division III and IV All-Ohio teams announced Tuesday.

In addition, Philo junior punter Nathan Delozier was named to the Division III second team and New Lexington senior receiver Jerald Spohn to the Division III third team.

Clarke, a longtime assistant at Coshocton and River View before coming to Newton Township, called the award “overwhelming.”

“The thing about it, a coach never gets recognition without the team performing, and they went out and did that,” Clarke said. “They deserve the credit.”

Clarke said he was surprised at how quickly the team picked up a new offensive and defensive system in such a short time.

That, he said, was credit to his assistants.

“It was great, and I couldn’t have put together a better group of guys who had the same vision as I had,” Clarke said. “Just to see them work hard and see the kids accomplish goals they didn’t think they could do at the beginning of the year, I probably got more enjoyment out of that than anything.”

He warned his future players that being the target of opposing teams will be a different challenge.

“We were able to sneak up on people this year, and now that’s not going to happen,” Clarke said. “We’re going to have to work that much harder to stay there.”

Philo coach Dirk Lincicome, who guided the Electrics to a 7-3 season, called Delozier “a do it all kind of player.”

His numbers were proof.

He rushed for 664 yards and nine touchdowns on offense as a running back, posted team-highs of nine pass break-ups and three interceptions at safety and also handled the kickoff duties.

But his 41.2-yard punting average on 24 punts stood out most. His 71-yard punt in the fourth quarter was a critical play in a key midseason win at John Glenn.

Lincicome didn’t underestimate the value of Delozier’s contribution to special teams, but said his all-around game is a vital cog to his team’s success.

“He does have some gifts, but Nate is very competitive in everything he does, and he takes it personal if he fails at anything,” Lincicome said. “He just hates to lose.”

Spohn, who caught 31 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, produced at a high level despite playing with a torn ACL during the season.

“That’s why he got our Iron Man award. Our trainer thought he may have had a partial tear, but he had strong legs and played his butt off,” New Lexington coach Bill Nutt said. “He was a good receiver and did a great job stock blocking for us. He also played (defensive) end where we needed help and did a whale of a job there. When he felt well, he had some outstanding games.”

New Lex placed three on special mention in two-way lineman Casey Gilligan, quarterback Alex Bryant and linebacker Hunter Cannon.

Other special mention picks included Maysville running back Jordan Hayes, defensive lineman Brandon Bush, offensive lineman Joe Kelly and linebacker Dylan Evans, Philo defensive lineman Chase Hambel, John Glenn running back Blake Atkins and linebacker Jordan Halasi and Sheridan running back Connor Smith.

sblackburn@zanesville

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