Nice job in the opener, QB. Just don’t get used to piling up splashy numbers like that.
That’s the basic message from Aurora Central Catholic football coach Brian Casey, who was enthused with quarterback Kyle Clechenko’s play in Friday’s season-opening win against Rockford Lutheran, but doesn’t want his quarterback to carry so much of the load as the Chargers move forward.
Clechenko, who transferred from St. Charles North after his freshman year, is in his second year in the Chargers’ program. He had to sit out because of transfer rules as a sophomore, then played running back last year as a junior before switching to quarterback as a senior.
Early returns on the move are golden. Triggering ACC’s double wing offense, Clechenko rushed for 178 yards on 21 carries in the Chargers’ 35-20 victory against Rockford Lutheran.
The production catches your attention, but Casey would like to see his QB take it a little easier on his body from now on, starting with a Saturday afternoon matchup against Marengo.
“I think he got too many carries, quite honestly,” Casey said. “I think it was one of those where we got into early short yardage situations where we had a gut play with the quarterback just straight ahead, like a wedge block type deal, and we got into spots where we’d be calling that three plays in a row because of our no huddle. It gassed Rockford Lutheran down, it certainly did that, but those were three times he was getting hit.”
Casey likes that a couple of ACC’s upcoming opponents scouted the game in person; if there is extra defense emphasis on corralling Clechenko, all the better. He doesn’t expect instances like Friday – when Clechenko gained more than three times the yards of anyone else on ACC – in the weeks to come.
Casey expresses confidence that a deep pool of ball-carriers can flourish. The Chargers’ long-term offensive success will be predicated on how slickly their misdirection plays can be orchestrated. Expect backs like Steven Amoni, Luke Dickerson and Brian Bohr to see expanded roles.
“If teams really want to sell out and stop the quarterback, that’s awesome,” Casey said. “That’ll work for a series, and then the adjustments and chess series begins, to find ways to get Kyle his carries and touches in there as well as the other six, seven guys we can trot out there.”
Despite Friday’s win, Casey wasn’t especially thrilled with ACC’s season debut against a Rockford Lutheran team that was 1-8 a year ago. Casey said the Chargers’ defense “still haven’t figured out or cured the big-play monster,” an offseason point of emphasis.
The likely return of junior defensive back Anthony Andujar – potentially the Chargers’ chief playmaker defensively and in the return game – could help turn that tide. In the preseason, Andujar re-tweaked a knee injury that cost him most of basketball season in the winter, and he missed Friday’s opener. Casey hopes he can play this week, at least on defense.
As for Clechenko, the 6-foot-1, 200 pound senior figures to remain a seasonlong catalyst in the Chargers’ bid to bust into the postseason – just expect a little more help from teammates to help make it happen.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.