TIFFIN — Gabe Bakker is straightforward when discussing his defensive coaching philosophy.
“Eleven men to the football,” the second-year Clear Creek Amana football coach said.
For opponents of the Class 3A ninth-ranked Clippers, it probably feels more like 14 or 15 players out there.
“All 11 guys fly to the football,” said Bakker, who will lead undefeated Clear Creek Amana into a District 5 contest Friday at home against Davenport Assumption. “When we do that, we’ve been able to get some turnovers. That is really our credo. Nothing over the top and get 11 guys to the football.”
With a victory Friday, the Clippers (6-0, 2-0) will become the first team in school history to begin a football season with seven wins in a row. The win streak has been built on the backs of one of the stingiest defenses in the state. Clear Creek Amana has surrendered just 29 combined points through six games and has held its opponent scoreless three times.
“We just try and get everyone to the football,” said junior inside linebacker J.J. Denny, who leads the Clippers with 35 tackles and two sacks. “It’s about playing with heart. It’s not all about the scheme, but get everyone there. We’re small. One person can’t bring a big dude down, but four of us can.”
Clear Creek Amana won just three games last season, the first with Bakker as its head coach. The former Dike-New Hartford and Iowa State player sensed this was going to be a different year during the Aug. 24 season opener at Mount Pleasant, where the Clippers trailed at halftime, 7-0.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“Our defense had played outstanding, but the offense only had one first down,” Bakker said. “We came out in the second half and really just got after it offensively. We didn’t change anything scheme-wise, but the kids played harder and had some big plays and all of a sudden we won the game, 26-7. That was the turning point for us right away in that first game.”
The Clear Creek Amana offense has scored just enough points this season to reward its consistently-stellar defense. Senior Andrew Rohret is a first-year starter at quarterback after two seasons at linebacker. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound signal caller has been effective with both his throwing arm and his running ability. Rohret has passed for 633 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception while running for another 643 yards and 10 TDs.
“It just means it is another thing they have to watch out for,” Rohret said. “If they get their backs turned against me, they just have to be aware of that.”
The next two weeks should decide the district race. The Clippers are locked in a three-way tie atop the standings with Assumption (3-3, 2-0) and No. 4 North Scott (5-1, 2-0), which both travel to Tiffin in consecutive weeks beginning Friday.
“It has really fired us up,” said senior safety Zach Kabbage, who leads the Clippers with two interceptions this season. “We’re ready to get in the next game each week. We’re just waiting for them. We want it.”
With all of its district aspirations still in front of it, the opportunity to become the first Clear Creek Amana football team to post a 7-0 record would be a significant footnote in what is already a special season.
“It would mean a lot,” Kabbage said. “Just to be in the book like that, we can look back on it 10, 20 years later and be like, ‘We were a part of that.’”
l Comments: email@example.com