FORT WAYNE – South Side’s turnaround season might depend on the performances of its lesser-known players.
The top-line talent is there, including senior running back/defensive back Donovan Clark (an Indiana recruit) and senior offensive lineman/defensive end Nathan Braster (Western Michigan).
But third-year coach Eddie Fields points to senior center Marquis Benjamin, senior guard Sam Stephens and senior defensive back Dionte Walker and others as key to getting over the .500 mark for the first time since 2009 (8-2).
“We have those guys,” Fields said. “Donovan is one of the best players in the area, and Nate is a tremendous athlete, but our success is going to come from our role guys; guys who have been putting in the work for four years to make themselves pretty good football players. We have good top-level talent, but our role guys can play too, and we are pretty excited about that.
“In the offseason, our slogan was, ‘Turn the corner.’ (My) first year was kind of rough, and last year was a steppingstone, but this year, we think we can compete. I had the seniors over for dinner (in the summer) and we set our goals and one of them was to win a championship. That is a realistic goal with the guys we have coming back.”
Clark, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound speedster, earned All-SAC honors after switching from quarterback to running back as the Archers switched from the spread offense to a double-wing formation.
Clark rushed for more than 1,000 yards. After playing on AWP’s 7-on-7 team over the summer, Clark earned (and accepted) the offer from the Hoosiers at defensive back.
Braster was an All-SAC first-team offensive lineman but will be playing defensive end in college.
“Instead of just competing, we can win some things this year,” Clark said. “Hopefully we win a championship, that’s what we talk about. From the SAC to the (postseason), we plan on making a run this year.”
After starting the season 1-5, the Archers (4-7) switched to the double wing, and Fields said he plans on bringing back the formation with sophomore Trae Masten at quarterback and senior Shaton Harris at a wing opposite Clark.
“We are going to stay with that tight formation,” Fields said. “We will run double tight and then some hybrid formations off that and throw Donovan at quarterback in some wildcat. We are going to try to mainly run that base offense. It did work.
“What happened for us in the spread is that it is a high-execution offense, a quarterback would throw it and a receiver would drop it or a quarterback would overthrow a receiver. It was too much for where we were at in our program. So we went to (the double wing), and we let Trae pitch it to Donovan and (the graduated) Aaron (Thomas), and they made big plays. We like where we went with it.”