Even in a new position, Easton Clapp should have ample chances to carry the ball for Southwestern Randolph. (File photo)
After record season, Southwestern Randolph seeks to keep it going
ASHEBORO – Trying to follow the best season in school history, Southwestern Randolph has moved one of its best players to another position.
Makes good sense to the Cougars.
They enter this season with Easton Clapp, the hard-running ball carrier, taking snaps at quarterback.
Don’t worry, his mentality hasn’t changed.
“I knew I was going to have to play quarterback this year,” said Clapp, who had been a running back. “I like it. But I also like running the ball, too. Running over people, I like that.”
Most of all, Southwestern Randolph liked many of the results a year ago. The Cougars produced an 8-3 mark, setting a school record for wins and playing a home game in the state playoffs for the first time.
“I think we just need to keep practicing hard, keep our heads focused,” tight end and backup defensive end Eli Gravely said. “Our confidence is very high this year.”
Part of that comes because despite quarterback Keaton Reed gone via graduation, there’s plenty to be excited about.
Record-setting slot back Adam Cole figures to be a huge part of the offense and defensive secondary.
Clapp, who’s up 20 pounds from a year ago to 185, will have the ball in his hands regularly as the quarterback. He has played that position since middle school.
“Easton had done that before,” coach Seth Baxter said. “In our scheme, our quarterback runs the ball anyway.”
His teammates endorse the move.
“He can make things happen,” Gravely said of Clapp.
“He’s got a cannon,” Cole said. “Almost as shifty as Keaton.”
Clapp likes to emphasize the rushing part.
“I’m going to be running the rock,” he said. “Adam will be running the rock. We’re going to have a strong running game.”
Along with Cole, there’s Colton Law as a receiver or slotback and a couple of newcomers at the skill spots with basketball players Sean Adkins and Marcus Robertson joining the team.
“Skill-wise, as a collective group, it’s the best we’ve had,” Baxter said.
The Cougars might look thinner along the line of scrimmage. Two-way lineman Jake Gallimore and sophomore Jose Flores could make those units sturdier.
For seniors such as Cole and Clapp who helped the program take steps toward prominence, now is no time to backtrack.
“We’ve also gained a lot of key guys,” Cole said. “They’re really stepping it up. We’ve got talent. Everybody thinks we lost everything and underestimates us, but we’re going to have a good season this year. We’re going to be a tough matchup for everybody. I don’t think anybody really knows what we have this year.”
Clapp also will be in a role as a linebacker by the time PAC games arrive on the schedule.
With 70 players in the program, Baxter said there’s a good trend with the Cougars.
“Success brings confidence and confidence brings success,” he said. “They expect to be successful. They understand now people know who they are.”