Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stansbury football: Jackson Clausing profile

In late January, I spoke to Stansbury High School's Jackson Clausing. He is a remarkable athlete who made several plays they keyed the Stallions 11-1 football season. Here is the article that will appear in the Stansbury 2012 football yearbook.

Jackson Clausing:
Football, baseball challenged his mind
and he influenced Stansbury’s success
By Bruce Smith
            The Stansbury Stallions football team took a big step forward in 2011. The way it ended – with a 26-7 loss to eventual runner-up Desert Hills in a 3A playoff game burned in Jackson Clausing’s head for a long time afterward.
            He remembered thinking about the game even during the baseball season, where he pitched and played virtually wherever the coaches wanted him. Clausing said he liked baseball because it challenged him more mentally. As a junior he helped the team to a 20-6 overall record and a Region 7 title.
            But in Week 7 of the 2012 football season – and facing Desert Hills again – he was challenged just as much.
            “Beating Desert Hills this year was the high point,” he said. “It put a hop in our step. After that, we thought we could really do it (win a championship) this year.”
            Clausing was the leading rusher (68 yards) in the 2011 game. As a senior, he became more of a two-way threat. Playing linebacker and fullback, he was the Stallions’ second-leading tackler (75) and No. 2 rusher (690 yards). Perhaps just as impressive was that he averaged a phenomenal 9.1 yards per carry.
            “I was on the field all the time unless they put the JV in,” Clausing recalled. “On offense, I split time with Jesse Horowitz, so it would keep me fresh on defense.”
            Clausing said his best game was against Tooele, when he had scoring runs of 79 and 64 yards and ended up with a career-high 187 on just eight carries. But it was his defensive play that made the biggest difference in the Stallions’ season.
            Stansbury’s defense was special, holding opponents to a school record 10.5 points per game. The big feather in the Stallions’ cap was a 12-7 win over Desert Hills, a 29-28 overtime victory at Morgan and, of course, a 14-13 decision at county rival Grantsville.
            Stansbury finished the regular season undefeated, but that may not have happened if not for Clausing.
            Against Grantsville, Clausing was moved to noseguard and the Stallions were locked in a tough game. The Cowboys actually took a 13-7 lead in the second quarter. The PAT, however, ended up being the difference.
            “We had just changed that (kick-block play) that very week,” Clausing said. “We had (Allen) Havili and (Iosua) Opeta push the guards away and me and (Jaron) Moon would shoot over the center. We had a lot of success in practice, but (in practice) there are always blocked kicks.
            “No one really knew it was me that blocked it because it happened so early in the game. I didn’t get much credit for it because we didn’t know it would be the game-decider.”
            Chase Christiansen, however, tied the game with a short touchdown run in the final period and Darius Johnson’s kick cleared the uprights. Grantsville later had a chance to win the game, but a 25-yard field goal sailed wide right, perhaps due to the earlier block.
            “Our biggest rival had to be Grantsville,” Clausing said. “After that, we went out and celebrated.”
            Clausing said the biggest difference on Stansbury’s team this year was its speed. Rarely could an opposing player outrun the Stallions’ defense. Immediately after last year’s loss to Desert Hills, the Stansbury coaching staff made that a priority.
            “Speed really helped us,” he said. “It wasn’t that we had the fastest kids. It’s just that every position we had was faster. We didn’t have kids that would blow you away, but every kid was fast. We would speed and agility training with one of the track coaches (Steve Allen), and I definitely got faster.”
            Clausing hoped his added speed would benefit him again when baseball began in the spring. At press time, he had one school (Southern Virginia University) talk to him about playing football, but he wanted to keep his options open.
            He hopes to attend college and major in physical therapy. He wants his college education to challenge him as much as sports did in high school.

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.