“As sophomores, when we went to Linn-Mar for that playoff game, when we got pulled up and got to dress it was definitely a fun experience as a sophomore,” he said. “You really find out then that the level of play at the varsity level is definitely different and something you’ve got to work hard at to be good at and something that’s going to be a big switch that you’re going to have to adapt to the next year. I think it’s really good they got to do that and get in the game.
There was limited time for the players, whose numbers against the vaunted Cedar Rapids Xavier lineup hardly stood out. Sullivan was under center for seven snaps and attempted one pass – an incompletion. Bailey was sent out as one of the River Kings’ return men in the fourth quarter and received a couple of carries for small gains. Gillis took several snaps on the offensive line, and others like freshman Brian Powell rotated in on defense.
But they all agreed:
“Every play was memorable,” Gillis, Sullivan and Bailey said together.
However miniscule the play time may have seemed, Camp said the minutes already set the young and unproven players ahead of schedule for next season.
“We’ve battled well to get here and we kind of wanted to share that with everybody. That gives us something to build off of,” Camp said. “I think next season that this will be a great memory for them and a great incentive.”
Clinton will have 21 spots open after graduation, including the team’s top two running backs (brothers Alex and Dustin Caldwell), its quarterback (Eric Maddasion) and eight members of the offensive/defensive lines. Even if everyone returns, with 14 juniors listed on the current roster, young River Kings will be relied on to compete next season.
“This just makes you hungry for next year,” Bailey said.