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Clipper football focuses on the present ahead of an uncertain season

2020 Clear Creek Amana varsity football preview
The Clear Creek Amana Clippers make ready to storm the field Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, for a Senior Night varsity contest against the Sabers of Central Clinton, DeWitt. The Creek Boys closed out the 2019 season with a 35-21 victory.

TIFFIN– Student athletes, their families and coaches watched as the 2020 spring sports season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.
They held a collective breath as summer baseball and softball were allowed to proceed, albeit in a shortened season, which did see some teams benched due to positive infection testing.
With the green light from the state and the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), there will be a 2020 high school football season. As with the summer sports however, it will look a little different.
For Clear Creek Amana (CCA), it means seven weeks of varsity play rather than the usual nine-week schedule, and also all teams across the state play in the first round of a seven-week postseason.
In his fourth year leading the Clippers, Coach Gabe Bakker looks to improve on last year’s 5-4 overall and 2-3 district showing.
“Depth at the skill positions are at an all-time high,” Bakker noted. “Team speed and athleticism should be a strength for this team. These kids are familiar with our system. They have all grown in it.”
Bakker and his staff return 17 seasoned seniors with Alex Figueroa, Nate Beckman, Tom Johnson, T.J. Bollers, Arron Feinberg, Joey Lepire, Ryan Navara, Brock Reade and Jacob Curtin back in the starting line-up.
“Fig” Figueroa is a 5-9, 175-pound tailback and defensive back who earned Second Team All-District honors last year with 121 carries for 681 yards and six Clipper touchdowns.
Beckman is a 5-7, 165-pound linebacker with 36-1/2 tackles including four for a loss of yards. Johnson is a 5-8, 145-pound wide receiver and defensive back who made 19 catches for 287 yards and one touchdown.
Bollers, who committed to the University of Wisconsin after receiving at least 21 offers as a four-star recruit, is a 6-3, 255-pound tight end and defensive end. He made 14 catches for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns and made 29 tackles with seven for a loss of yards. Bollers also earned Honorable Mention in the Des Moines Register’s All-State selections as well as Third Team for the Iowa Press Sportswriters Association, and was a First Team All-District pick.
Feinberg is a 6-1, 295-pound offensive and defensive lineman with 13-1/2 tackles last season.
Lepire is a 6-4, 295-pound offensive and defensive lineman with seven tackles, including two for a loss last year.
Reade is a 6-2, 160-pound wide receiver and defensive back with a dozen receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
Navara is a 6-2, 190-pound quarterback and defensive back who completed 89 of 159 passes for 1,249 yards and a dozen touchdowns.
Curtin is a 5-8, 160-pound defensive back and wide receiver with 18 tackles last season, including two for a loss.
Seniors Harrison Cory (linebacker/tailback), Riley Wolfe (wide receiver/defensive back), T.J. Hansen (offensive lineman/defensive lineman), Tanner Webb (offensive lineman/defensive lineman), Anthony Hennes (wide receiver/defensive back), Mason Stanfield (defensive back), Wes Quinlan (defensive lineman/offensive lineman) and Treyton Bickel (tight end/defensive end) also return to the Clippers’ fleet.
Junior Harrison Rosenberg, a 6-0, 170-pound wide receiver and defensive back returns to the starting lineup with 20 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Fellow junior Gage Freeman (linebacker/tail back) is also a returning letter winner for the Creek Boys.
Despite the returning firepower, Bakker still had some concerns.
“Depth on the lines. Will we have juniors step up? As with any team, who will step up and be the leaders?”
He added, “Fun to coach high school football, as this changes every year. Every team is different.”
What also changes is the district assignment.
Last year, CCA, friendly rival Liberty High, and Solon were all in Class 3A. This year, the Bolts move to 4A and the Spartans drop to 2A, while the Creek Boys remains in 3A to face Benton Community, Grinnell, Newton, Oskaloosa and Cedar Rapids Xavier Catholic in District No.6.
“What a challenge,” said Bakker. “Our district, and really our entire schedule, will test us. Mount Pleasant and Muscatine out of the gate in non-district games will definitely get us ready for the district games.”
Xavier, a Mississippi Valley Conference school, is “…the top dog until someone takes it from them. Grinnell has a team that may be as athletic as any in the state. Oskaloosa has had continued success recently, is tough, and knows how to win. Benton (a fellow WaMaC school) has been to the playoffs the past two years in 2A and will be hard-nosed and physical. Newton has the makings to be an explosive team and has renewed energy with a new head coach.”
Under the IHSAA’s guidelines, social distancing is to be maintained as much as possible between players, including extending the team box on the sidelines to the 10-yard lines. An officials’ timeout (two-minutes) will be taken every four minutes of game clock time in order for players to sanitize and hydrate. Also, the intermission between the first and second, and third and fourth quarters will also be two minutes for sanitization and hydration. The full list of guidelines can be found at www.iahsaa.org.
“What a time to coach football,” Bakker said. “Even with all of the unknowns with COVID and the future, I really think our coaches and players are excited to practice each day. Focusing on the present is what we are preaching. I personally really like what the state has done with scheduling. It allows all teams a postseason opportunity while being able to coach/play a little differently week-to-week. In fact, I believe it will allow teams a chance to get more athletes involved each week as every week isn’t a ‘playoff’ game.”
The season starts out with a scrimmage, time to be determined as of Saturday, Aug. 8, against the Spartans in Solon on Friday, Aug. 21, with the first game set for Friday, Aug. 28, at Mount Pleasant. The Creek Boys turn on the lights in Tiffin on Friday, Sept. 4, hosting the Muskies of Muscatine in the first of four home games.
The postseason starts on Friday, Oct. 16, with all 64 teams in action, and wraps up Nov. 19-20 with the state championships.

Clear Creek Amana 2020 Varsity Football Schedule
(All game times are 7:30 p.m. unless noted)
Friday, Aug. 21 AT Solon (scrimmage)
Friday, Aug. 28 AT Mount Pleasant
Friday, Sept. 4 HOME vs. Muscatine
Friday, Sept. 11 AT Cedar Rapids Xavier Catholic
Friday, Sept. 18 HOME vs. Benton Community
Friday, Sept. 25 AT Newton
Friday, Oct. 2 HOME vs. Oskaloosa
Friday, Oct. 9 HOME vs. Grinnell
Friday, Oct. 16 First Round (64 teams)
Friday, Oct. 23 Second Round (32 teams)
Friday, Oct. 30 Third Round (16 teams)
Friday, Nov. 6 Quarterfinals (8 teams)
Nov. 12-14 Semifinals
Nov. 19-20 Finals