LORAIN — When it comes to football and family, there’s just something special about Clearview High School and its community.
It’s a small school with an enrollment of just over 400 students but it’s the pride of the community with an outstanding family atmosphere that makes it seem a little different.
“It’s a place we love,” head coach Mike Collier said. “A lot of people yell out the word family and break out on family a lot. You really feel like it’s the truth here. Not only are there blood lines here, but just how close-knit the community is and the family. To go through everything (quarterback) Drew (Engle) went through with his uncle passing this spring and to see the community come out and really rally behind them. It just says a lot about how people care.”
Senior tailback Drew Engle knows all about that family atmosphere. His brother Roger played quarterback for Clearview from 2013-15. Roger holds practically all of Clearview’s passing records and is currently playing at Concordia College in Ann Arbor, Mich. It’s very possible that Drew will join his brother at Condordia next fall.
His father Roger Sr. is Clearview’s defensive coordinator and his uncle Todd, who lost his battle with leukemia this past May, was also on the Clippers’ coaching staff as the line coach.
“That’s part of the rich tradition here,” said Drew Engle. “You have generations of families that come through. Kind of special to see over the years. For example, the Colliers – our coaches (Mike and Rob) – they played here, they grew up here, they coach here and their children grew up here. That’s special.”
“He’s just a great character kid,” said Mike Collier, who is in his 12th year as coach. “Here’s a kid who’s been a leader for us for a number of years. Here’s a guy who just does things the right way and enjoys helping others. It’s kind of carried over throughout our team. We’ve got a lot of guys who do the job in the classroom and on the field and in our practice.”
Along with the Collier and Engle connection on the coaching staff is Tom Hoch’s youngest son Andrew. Clearview’s home field in named in honor of the long-time, successful coach, who suffered a heart attack and died in 1997 during a Clearview football game.
Engle broke Clearview’s career rushing record earlier this year. Anthony Hitchens, who went on to Iowa and is now playing inside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, held the mark of 3,864 during his high school career from 2006-09. Engle enters Saturday’s playoff game with 4,131 career yards, including his team-leading 1,030 yards this year. He’s scored 17 touchdowns and has 106 points for the Clippers. He credits his offensive line for his accomplishments.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said. “I have a great relationship with each of my linemen. We’ve played youth (football) together. Our sophomore, junior, senior years, we’ve stuck together. I think that bond is needed not only at running back but your quarterback as well. Me and the quarterback’s (Chase Christensen) relationship with them has helped a lot. We can rely on them. I know the holes will open up.”
It’s a veteran offensive line with senior left tackle Dylan Russ, senior guards Brandon Moore and Avrey Cruz and senior center Javier Coll along with junior right tackle Victor Molina.
The team’s goals this year included winning the final Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division and earning a spot in the playoffs. The PAC is dissolving after this school year. Clearview will be a part of a new league consisting of schools from Lorain County.
“The top goal wasn’t to look back on last year,” Engle said. “It’s kind of funny how the year played out – having the same record, the same situation as last year. First goal was a conference championship – the PAC’s last year – we wanted to leave our mark as defending champs two years in a row, and then making the playoffs obviously.”
“We don’t really hide behind that,” said Collier. “It’s our goal every year.”
Saturday, the Clippers will host Marengo Highland to open the Division IV, Region 14 playoffs. It’s the first home playoff game for Clearview since 2008.
“It’s something special,” said Engle. “It hasn’t happened in over a decade. I think it brings the community together even more. It’s going to be a special feeling. Having that bond with the community, we can give back to them in a sense. Giving them the opportunity to watch a playoff game right here in our home town.”
“They really wanted to get a home field playoff game,” Collier said. “To be on Tom Hoch Field for the first time since 2008 is pretty special.”
Both teams are 9-1 on the year and enter on nine-game winning streaks.
Engle, an honor student, and his teammates had the opportunity to grade film of Highland with the coaching staff over the past weekend to draw up a game plan.
“We got the film on (Highland) this past Saturday,” Engle said. “Weekend was up to us to watch our own film and tell the coaches what we see. (Tuesday) we’ll go over it as a team, go over with the coaches for adjustments. From what I’ve seen, (Highland) likes to run the ball a lot. They won’t pass it too much. Remind me of like a Columbia – like to run the ball, be more physical.”
Engle understands his role as a huge part of Clearview’s offense.
“First of all, it would be ball security,” he said. “I think that’s huge. It came up a week or two ago where I really never experienced a game where I questioned my ball security. I think that’s something I’ve focused on.”
Engle’s been pretty dependable with the football. In 165 attempts, he’s lost only three fumbles. He knows there are other responsibilities as a tailback.
“Pass blocking,” he said. “I’ve got to stay on top of that, especially this week, and then just hitting the holes hard.”
Collier knows Engle’s contributions run much deeper than just running the ball.
“If you watch him throughout the course of the game,” said Collier, “he’s helping kids, pointing things out to us – assignments that maybe they didn’t see. He’s got a really good football mind. To watch him run the ball and see the kind of patience that he has, to let blocks develop in front of him, not a lot of kids are that patient when they have the ball in their hand.”
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