“I think it’s just very important to brand things. You brand that by your coaching staff, you brand it by your uniform, or you brand it by your style of play, but for me, not just one of those. We kind of do it all. It’s has be all-inclusive. It has to be an overall change. You can’t just change a few things,” said head coach Randy McKamey, who is starting his first season at the helm of the Dragons’ program.
“Nothing against the previous staff that was here but coming in with the staff that was here and keeping them all, I’m just a drop in the bucket. I brought in other guys from Clinton that I’ve coached with to try to help that change. We’re trying to rebrand things and it all starts with our beliefs. I’m a firm believer that players take on the mentality of the coaching staff,” he added.
The job of starting quarterback is still up the air as senior Matthew Bouchard and junior Luke Harrison battle for the starting nod. Bouchard was at Oak Ridge last season, where he did not play football. Harrison is the returning starter.
The offense has changed from a year ago and he said he spoke with Harrison about the change.
“What I told Luke was, ‘If you threw for 200 yards in a game and you threw 30 times, you may still very well throw for 200 yards in a game but you’ll only throw it 12 times.’ That automatically changes percentages. When we do decide to throw the ball, we hope that it’s lethal,” McKamey said.
The Clinton offensive line is young.
“I don’t think we return one starter. Maybe some of those guys saw some limited action. I think it all starts with the center and works out. We’ve got five kids with limited varsity experience yet they’re big kids and they move well,” he said.
Zach Page, Trevor Linderman, Christian Hopper, Luke Johnson, Jackson Reece, and Daniel Moore are all in the mix to see playing time on the revamped offensive line.
McKamey said he will rely on a stable of running backs which will include starter Ro Hardin, Isaiah Washington, Cameron Washington, Blake Cooper, Jakobe Hardin, Reagan McKamey, Cody Parker, Anderew Niner, and Josh Breeden. All will rotate in the backfield.
“I’ve never had this kind of depth at running back before,” he said.
Parker will also see time as a slot receiver. Other receivers include Mason Jenkins, Anthony Shervington, and Anthony Krause.
“We’ve got guys we can throw it to,” McKamey said.
One of the advantages on the defensive side of the ball is the presence of quality control coach/consultant Jimmy Gaylor, who brings a wealth of experience to the staff.
Tim Minga, the defensive coordinator has around McKamey since his days at Clinton Middle School.
“He knows what I expect and I know what he’s capable of. The kids have responded really well,” McKamey said.
Andrew Shoopman, Luke Johnson, Ro Hardin, and Jakobe Hardin are returning starters on defense.
The Dragons will run a base 4-3 defense this year. McKamey there will times Clinton run a five or six man front.
“Coach Gaylor does a good job of knowing when you get to the point where you can’t stop somebody how to fix it,” McKamey said.
Senior kicker Garrett Zody (and preseason All-State selection) is back and will also handle punting duties for the Dragons.
One of the things McKamey wanted to acknowledge was the sheer number of players.
“I realize it’s not about numbers but when I counted in week 10 last year, Clinton had about 37 players on the sideline and on the field total. We’re running about 86 players right now and that’s not just dead weight. We were over 100 so we thinned it down and the kids here want to be here,” he said.
McKamey said the numbers help in practices because they can put together good scout teams.
Clinton has a 30-player strong freshman team this year with their own schedule and coach.
The Dragons also have a separate junior varsity.
“We’ve been using ‘On the rise.’ That’s what we based things around since I took the job and I think we’re still rising,” McKamey said.