Junior speedster Bobby Clark thwarts one would-be tackler with the old fashioned stiff arm enroute to chalking up a state rushing record for one game.
by Gary Noland
For the Pathfinder
Last year the Blackhawks won only one football game, going 1-7 for the season in their first year moving up to Class B competition and from 8-man to 11-man football.
No one knew who they were.
After last Saturday, everyone knows who they are.
"We're for real now," said head coach Mark Darrow.
The Hawks have dominated their opponents offensively and defensively, won four straight games, and their leading running back, junior Bobby Clark, pushed the envelope Saturday with 403 yards rushing against Deer Lodge, laying claim to a new state record, while leading the Blackhawks to a 40-8 homecoming win.
But, the record might still belong to Dan Derlatka of Alberton who earlier this season rushed for 388 yards in a single game if it hadn't been for Sarah Wilkins, a Seeley-Swan student who walks the sidelines keeping stats for the coaching staff.
Wilkins noticed that Clark had gained a total of 380 yards after she noted the 73-yard touchdown run late in the fourth period.
"I was going to pull him," offensive coach Shawn Holmes said, "and then Sarah told me had 380 yards rushing."
Sarah then told Bobby how close he was to the record, and Holmes, not wanting to risk needless injury to a star player in a clinched game, told Clark he could go back in for only two plays.
Meanwhile, head coach Darrow was a little puzzled too.
"I asked him (Holmes) why he was continuing to play Clark," Darrow said. "I didn't know anything about it (the record)."
On the first of his two allotted plays, Clark picked up only one yard, still seven yards shy of Derlatka's 388 yards. On the second play he scampered 23 yards, setting a new state single-game rushing record of 404 yards. He had carried the ball 35 times for a 11.5-yard average.
Clark said Tuesday he "tried really hard on that second play."
"I wanted to run more, but he (Holmes) wouldn't let me," Clark said.
Clark's father, Tim, said Tuesday the family is very proud.
"I'm just prouder than heck for him. He's worked hard for it," his father said.
Holmes thinks the record might have been set earlier this season when Clark ran for 350 yards in the first game against St. Ignatius and in later games against Plains and Troy, but the coaches needed to work other players.
Holmes had high praise for Clark: "When he gets out by himself, he's gone. He's tough to bring down."
"He just keeps getting better every week," Darrow said.
Holmes, though, was equally emphatic in praising the linemen in Saturday's game for making Clark's record possible.
"Our line was just blowing holes. Our line was blocking like animals," Holmes said, crediting Justin Taylor, Chris Auchenbach, Tom Eustace, Will Leishman, Clint Leishman.
Fullback B. J. Parker, in addition to rushing 51 yards himself, was a key lead blocker for Clark on several plays.
As a team, the Blackhawks rushed for a total of 550 yards, with quarterback Bryan Barthelmess passing for 79 yards.
Clark crossed the goal line for four touchdowns on runs of 3, 3, 49 and 73 yards. Barthelmess scored twice on short-yardage runs.
The Blackhawks, now ranked second in District 5-B, will play third-ranked Loyola in a home game this Friday (Oct. 2) at 4 p.m.