Seth Pennock has done a little bit of everything for the Clinton football team this season.
“Seth has done a lot of different things for us this year,” Clinton coach Lee Camp said. “He’s been really a great team player. He’s done everything we needed from one range to another — whether its going out and catching a pass or two or on a couple fourth-and-1 stands, we needed his big body in there at the right spot. He made some plays. We definitely have used him a lot blocking as well as tackling and on all the special teams.”
Being the jack of all trades for the River Kings wasn’t what Pennock had envisioned for his senior year, which enters a new phase tonight when Clinton travels to second-ranked Marion Linn-Mar for a first-round Class 4A playoff game. As a junior, Pennock started all nine Clinton games as quarterback and passed for more than 900 yards. This season the River Kings changed their offense and wanted a quarterback who was more fleet of foot, so they turned the offense over to junior Will Carr.
“I’ve played quarterback every year I’ve played football since third grade,” Pennock said. “Like any kid who loves the position, it’s hard. But there’s not a better person to give the position up to than Will. He’s a class act, smart kid. I give the kid a lot of credit. He stepped in — I’m not going say he had big shoes to fill — but he stepped in to that varsity level. It’s not an easy step, but he made it look easy.”
Carr has thrown for more than 700 yards this season and has rushed for more than 250 yards.
"He's been really helpful," Carr said. "I really have a lot of respect for Seth as a person. He took it fine. He's gone and played wherever they wanted him to. He's helped me out with anything I needed."
Pennock said: “He’ll tell me what he’s thinking and I’ll help him out, maybe with a defensive read or I’ll ask him what he thought out there. I had nine games under my belt at the start of the season, so I felt I could help Will out a little bit.”
Once Carr took over the reins of the offense, Pennock needed a new role.
“The coaches said I can fit in more places than one,” Pennock said. “I’ve played fullback, tight end, three defensive positions, kicker and punter. It’s been a big change. After Week 1, Week 2, when I realized my quarterbacking days were pretty much over, you just kind of get over. Life throws some stuff at you and you’ve got to get over it. I figured why hold a grudge my whole senior year when I can live it up and get experience from a different side of the field.”
Pennock said playing special teams was his favorite and his kicking and punting had benefited the River Kings this season.
“It’s just so laid back,” Pennock said. “People might say I’m lazy because that’s what I like doing and there’s pressure. You feel good when you pin them down inside the 20 or kicking a field goal. You look up at the scoreboard and those three points, they’re all yours. It’s nice.”
He has averaged 32.7 yards on 48 punts with a long of 67 this season. He pinned Davenport North at the 1-yard line, which set up a go-ahead interception return for a touchdown during Clinton’s 35-21 victory on Sept. 23.
“His punting has improved tremendously throughout the year,” Camp said. “I think he’s probably one of the top in the conference, especially in the area of when I say, ‘I don’t want this guy to get a return.’ He isn’t able to field the ball. Seth puts it where he wants it.”
Pennock is 19 of 22 on extra points this season and made his only field goal attempt. He kicked a 41-yard field goal attempt during Clinton’s 42-3 loss to Pleasant Valley on Oct. 21.
“I kick them every day in practice,” Pennock said. “We were on the hash. I don’t kick from the hash very much. Any high school kid just wants to see how far he can kick it from the middle of the field. But, we were on the hash. I was a little nervous. I kicked it and it was probably the best one I kicked all year — practice, game, anything.”
After playing only offense in high school coming into this year, Pennock said playing defense presented different challenges.
“Tiring,” Pennock said of what it was like to play defense. “Freshman year, I didn’t play defense. Sophomore year, I didn’t play defense. Junior year, I didn’t play defense. I can’t say I’m much of the tackling type. ... It was a new experience. I feel like I can say I’ve played everywhere on the field.”
What is it about Pennock — other than his 6-foot, 4-inch, 225-pound frame — that makes him able to play so many different positions?
“I think I’m football smart,” Pennock said. “It’s about doing the little things right, as coach Camp would say. I think it’s the knowledge of the game I have, seeing the game from so many different angles as quarterback. I know that as a linebacker, as a defensive end when I’m lining up for a blitz, I think, ‘Does this quarterback see me? If he doesn’t, I’m going to sack him.’ If I didn’t see someone blitzing, I got blindsided. I think my vision on the field is pretty good.”
While throwing a pass is pretty much the only thing that Pennock hasn’t done during a game this season, he’s still put his skills to use during practice.
“He helps wherever he can,” Camp said. “In practice, he definitely jumps in wherever we need another thrower or a scout team quarterback ... He’s done what we’ve needed. That’s the type of attitude you really need to build a program. I think a lot of other players that see that, realize it’s all about team. Seth is that type of person.”