BATTLE FOR THE SWORD: East's Clark makes sure he's counted
CHRIS CLARK FILE
Senior CB/RB for Victoria East
• Second full year on varsity
Favorite player: Darrelle Revis
• Favorite football memory: Making a tackle on the Titans kickoff team during a 2010 playoff game against Lake Travis.
There is something to be said for a young man who is willing to stand up and be counted when the wins are not coming. Chris Clark may be one of those young men.
The Victoria East senior has battled an ankle injury for nearly a month, yet has not missed a game for a program that is undergoing more on-field adversity than anyone could have concocted in the preseason.
"It's been a great experience, a life-changing experience developing and teaching the younger ones," Clark said after a recent practice. "It's been a great growing experience as a team."
East is a surprising 1-5 and winless in District 30-4A play. However, those records are certainly not from a lack of trying from Clark's part or anyone else.
Clark entered the season as the team's free safety. He's still a safety, but has spent considerable time in the offensive backfield. He even returned three kicks for 44 yards this year.
Earlier this season, Victoria East head coach Roland Gonzalez said some of his players seem to have a knack to be effective in more than one facet of football. The first-year coach said Clark is one of those players.
"Chris has worked exceptionally hard this summer and in two-a-days to play on both sides of the ball for us" Gonzalez said.
To Clark, his most surprising contribution was on offense. He's played running back at times, but until the 2012 season opener he never played both sides of the ball at the same time.
"When they told me I was going to do both sides this year I was up for the chance," Clark said. "I just had to do whatever I needed to do and what he's asked."
In that contest against an experienced Gonzales defense East wasn't running the football well. In the third quarter, Clark was thrown into the fray to see what he could do. He repaid the trust his coaches had in him with a 42-yard touchdown run.
The next week against San Marcos, Clark was the starting running back. He burst through for another 42-yard touchdown run in that game, while adding seven tackles defensively.
An ankle injury, sustained in the Sept. 14 victory over San Antonio Brackenridge, has limited the 17-year-old Clark to just two carries since his early season cameo.
Throughout it all, he has yet to miss a game because of his uncooperative left ankle. To date, he has 17 carries for 126 yards on offense. Defensively, the senior has 34 tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
Clark vowed he will be at 100 percent for Friday's contest against Victoria West. Besides, the Warriors have been good to Chris Clark. When the Titans beat West 24-14 last year, Clark led his team with 18 tackles.
He said the Battle of the Sword, and keeping the trophies awarded to its victor, means everything.
"It's a must," Clark said. "It's that rivalry that gets you pumped. Knowing that they want to beat you and you want to beat them, it's like a once in a lifetime thing."