CEDAR RAPIDS – Down 45-0 with the continuous clock rule in effect and five minutes left until season’s end isn’t exactly a desirable situation to take one’s first varsity snap. Don’t tell the River Kings’ varsity call-ups, though.
Suiting up for the first time with the playoff River Kings, Alex Gillis, Isaiah Bailey and Johnny Sullivan all said the moment they stepped onto the field alongside players they’ve emulated the whole 2013 season was an indescribable thrill. With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, new (younger) faces took the turf and gave fans a preview for who will take the reins when next season rolls around.
“It was a lot less nerve-racking after the first play,” said Sullivan, a freshman quarterback who played for Clinton’s sophomore team this season.
“The intensity is ramped up – 200 percent,” added two-way freshman lineman Gillis. “It taught us a lot. … You don’t know half of the stuff that goes on until you’re here. You can understand the true meaning of how you’re supposed to play, and watching (the seniors) makes it 20 times better.”
This wasn’t Clinton coach Lee Camp’s first rodeo, though. He recalled the 2009 playoffs when, even with a loaded lineup, he cycled in several youngsters to gain meaningful experience.
“I’ve done that the last couple of times – offering kids the option. More and more opt to be a part of this,” he said, adding later that he plans to coach these players and other up-and-comers that will be on the roster in 2014. “A couple of these guys were able to do this as sophomores. That was a big memory and they wanted to be back.”
Senior quarterback Eric Maddasion remembered it well, and he learned a lot.