CLEAR CREEK AMANA
• Last season: 4-5
• Co-head coaches: Matt Hughes and Ronnie Hughes (second season as co-head coaches).
• Assistant coaches: Matt Trosky, Josh Koeppel, Mark Dalton, Anthony Walls, Jody Bandy, Mikkel Brown, Mark Mitchell, Mitch King, Kyle Stoner.
• Returning starters: Tanner Bandy, sr., WR/S; Nile Rourke, sr., QB/DB; Aaron Akers, jr., TE/LB; Stephen Jensen, sr., FB/LB; Drew Wagner, sr. OL/DL; Sage Spiker, sr., OL/DL; Josh Fultz, sr., OL/DL; Jon Jacobson, sr., K; Keyan McAreavy, sr., WR/DB; Jacob Aldrich, sr., OL/DL; Harry Lucas, sr., RB/DL; Javon Manard, sr., WR/DB; Ben Gingerich, sr., RB/LB; Sebastian Calderon, sr., TE/LB.
• Newcomers to watch: Max Moore, so., OL/DL; Chase Rourke, sr., DB/WR; Corey Siders, so., QB/DB; Drake Shores, jr., RB/DB; Robbie Swails, jr., QB/DB; Grant Helle, sr., TE/LB; Mitch Stopko, sr., RB/DB; Ethan Taylor, so., OL/DL; Alex Ritchie, sr., WR/DB; Tim Mass, jr., OL/DL; Evan Downes, jr., WR/LB.
• Playoff history: Three appearances (2008-2010).
• District: Class 3A, District 5.
• District davorite:Davenport Assumption drops down to Class 3A after reaching the Class 4A playoffs for the seventh consecutive time last year.
• Circle the date: Sept. 12 vs. Washington. District opener against last year’s Class 3A runner-up could go a long way in determining Clippers postseason fate.
• Headliner: Senior Tanner Bandy spent last season bouncing between running back, quarterback and receiver. He moves back to receiver this year but is a major threat anywhere he lines up.
• Unsung hero: Senior Jon Jacobson converted 28-of-29 PATs last season and has the leg (three touchbacks last year) to be a weapon in field position.
• Keep an eye on: If you’re watching the football, you’ll probably see plenty of Stephen Jensen. The senior linebacker led the Clippers with 101 tackles last year.
• Biggest question: How far can the Clippers climb in year No. 2 under the Hughes’s?
Year No. 2 of the Hughes era at Clear Creek Amana brings radically increased expectations in Tiffin.
The Clippers have shown steady progress with back-to-back 4-5 seasons, but appear poised for a breakout with 13 starters back from a 2013 squad that fell one win shy of the playoffs.
“It’s night and day from where we were last year at this point,” Matt Hughes said. “Last year, I think we had a total of eight seniors. It was a new program, new offense, new defense, everything was brand new. And this year we have, I think, 25 seniors coming back, a lot of experience but the most important thing is they know the system.”
Following a 1-3 start last season, Clear Creek Amana won three of its next four and had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win in either of its final two games, but finished with back-to-back losses.
Hughes said the season finale loss to Maquoketa stuck with his team through the off-season.
“I think they took that sour feeling that we had from that last game and they let it carry into the off-season and throughout the summer workouts, and I couldn’t be more happy with where we are right now,” Hughes said.
The Clippers return a wealth of experience with eight starters back on both sides of the ball.
Senior Nile Rourke will take the full-time reigns at quarterback after throwing for 324 yards and four touchdowns while splitting time with Tanner Bandy last season.
Bandy will be Rourke’s top target as he moves back to wide receiver, where he led the Clippers in receiving yards as a freshman and sophomore.
“Nile Rourke he is a workhorse. He has just put in so much work this off season,” Hughes said. “He is focused, he knows the playbook, he is throwing the ball well, he makes great decisions and he provides us with a balanced attack because he has got such good quick feet.”
After allowing 27 points or more in five of nine games last season, the Clippers’ defense should be a major strength this season.
Six of CCA’s top-eight tacklers return this season, led by senior linebackers Stephen Jensen and Aaron Akers.