MARION — Their RPI coming into the week was 4. Their record remains unblemished.
Their defense is stout. They already have more wins than they did all last season.
Time to take these Clear Creek-Amana Clippers seriously.
Quarterback Andrew Rohret rushed for 218 yards and had a touchdown run and pass as CC-A survived a late Marion comeback for a 17-15 win Friday night at Thomas Park.
That makes Clear Creek-Amana a perfect 4-0 as everyone in Class 3A heads into district play next week. The Clippers were a mediocre 3-6 just a season ago.
“We hung on,” said Clear Creek-Amana Coach Gabe Bakker. “Learned a lot about our kids, and that’s what’s exciting. We’re learning how to win again, and just finishing off a game, regardless of how it happens, we did it, and now we can learn from it.”
Rohret’s 65-yard TD run up the middle off a read-option play gave CC-A a 17-3 lead with 10:46 left. That appeared to be enough on this muggy night, and it was ... barely.
Star quarterback Trevor Paulsen missed last week’s game for Marion because of an injury, but he returned here, somewhat unexpectedly. He didn’t play the whole way but led the Indians’ fourth-quarter rally.
A 6-yard TD pass to Mark Horcher with 4:42 left brought the Marion within 17-9, the extra-point kick blocked. The Indians got the football back at the CC-A 44 with just over three minutes to go, but Paulsen threw four straight incompletions.
A fumble on what would have been a game-clinching, first-down run by sophomore Alex Figueroa was recovered by Marion’s JuCorey Higgins at the Indians 43 with 1:20 left. Paulsen was sacked for a loss of 7 yards on first down, but completed a 23-yard pass to Dane Carstensen, a 26-yarder to Mitch McAllister, then a 15-yarder to Horcher in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown with 45 seconds left.
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Marion tried some trick-eration on the two-point attempt to tie, but it failed. A shotgun snap went to running back Lucas Unsen, who started left, then handed off to McAllister on a reverse.
McAllister ran back to the right, pulled up and threw a pass to an open Carstensen in the end zone that was well underthrown. CC-A recovered the onside kick, and that was it.
“We started in the offseason with focusing on getting our playmakers on defense,” Bakker said. “The defensive coaches have done a great job. It’s just a solid unit.”
Clear Creek-Amana has allowed just three touchdowns and 22 points in its four games, switching this season from a 4-3 defensive alignment to a 3-4. It’s not especially flashy offensively, but Rohret and Figueroa run very hard behind a big line.
Each had 24 rushes in this one.
Jaffer Murphy’s 38-yard field goal gave Marion a 3-0 lead in the second quarter, but Rohret hit 6-foot-6 wide receiver Nolan Schwarting with a 17-yard TD pass on the ensuing possession for a 7-3 Clippers lead. Mitch Evans’ 43-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter gave CC-A a 10-3 halftime edge.
“The confidence is growing with this group,” Bakker said. “I don’t think we’re too confident, because I know we’ve got a lot to improve on. But right now, this is right where we want to be sitting. It’s a good feeling.”
“We’re putting the work in, and the results are showing that,” Rohret said. “We switched our defense, have really focused on gang tackling. All 11 get to the ball, and good things happen. That’s what has happened.”
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