December 11, 2023

Clarke’s road to state ends at Story City

The Clarke Indians made their third consecutive appearance at the state Class 2A playoffs last Friday in Story City against Roland-Story. Their bid for the next round of playoffs ended as they fell 42-7 to the Norsemen.


The game began with Clarke receiving the opening kick, fielded by Brock Watson and returned to the 23. Senior quarterback Jack Cooley’s first pass of the game fell incomplete to Watson, and the next was good to Brock Nall to bring the Indians to 3rd and 5. A pass to Watson earned the Indians a first down, and a pass to Ashton Giza gained a few yards. The next snap stayed in Cooley’s hands as he ran under pressure, and the following one fell incomplete, with Oscar Castro coming in to punt on lack of downs from Clarke’s 49.

With Roland-Story set to begin inside their own five-yard line, a 15-yard penalty on Roland-Story on the punt turned the ball back over to Clarke as the penalty wiped away the punt and gave the Indians an automatic first down at the Norsemen’s 34. A series of passes from Cooley to Nall, Drake Moore and Watson brought Clarke closer to goal range, and a pass to Castro brought them within first and goal. On third and goal, Cooley faked a hand-off to Moore to send a lofting pass to Jesus Vega in the end zone, that was picked by Roland-Story’s Boaz Clark for a touch back on interception.

Roland-Story quarterback Sam Knoll looked to pass for a first down but was unable on plays, and was forced to punt on 4th and 4. Knoll’s kick was to Shay Mathews, but the punt was muffed and Mathews was unable to recover before Roland-Story, turning the ball right back over to Roland-Story at Clarke’s 25. Knoll made quick work of finding Trevor Britten in the end zone for the first touchdown of the evening, followed by a point after to make the score 7-0 in Roland-Story’s favor.

Knoll kicked a touch back, and Clarke began to drive from their own 20. On 3rd and 4, Cooley made a pass to Giza that was complete, one-yard shy of a first down. With the offense staying on the field, Cooley tried to run for the down but was stopped and lost yardage, with the Indians having to turn the ball over on downs at their own 28.

A penalty against Clarke on Roland-Story’s second down for offsides gained Roland-Story a first down, and two hand-offs from Knoll to Jonovan Wilkinson saw him through Indian defense and across the goal line. Another point after by Knoll widened the score 14-0 with just under four minutes left in the quarter.

Clarke began again at their 20 on a Knoll touch back kick, gaining only one yard before having to punt the ball away. Castro’s punt rolled inside Roland-Story 30, with the Norsemen picking back up at their 27. A large gain by Roland-Story was initially wiped away on a penalty, but Knoll was able to come back from a 2nd down and 22 to make it a 3rd and 3 and pushed forward with the help of his offensive line for a first down. A couple more plays were executed before the clock ran out on the quarter.


Knoll was sacked on 3rd and 4 by Alec Wright on the opening play, and Roland-Story opted to punt. The ball rolled inside Clarke’s 25, and they picked up at their 23. Clarke was able to get a first down, but incomplete passes found them having to punt on lack of downs.

Roland-Story quickly put another seven on the board from deep in their own territory, as Knoll fired the ball over the middle to Wilkinson who made a one-handed catch and ran for an 85-yard receiving touchdown. A point after by Knoll was good to give Roland-Story a 21-point lead.

A penalty on Clarke after Mathews returned the ball to near the 20 backed them up to their 7, and they began their drive down the field, making first downs as they approached midfield. A pass from Cooley to Mathews was complete, however Mathews fumbled and was unable to recover the ball which was picked up by Roland-Story’s Hesston Johnson at Clarke’s 44.

A series of penalties on play action for Roland-Story found them on a 3rd down and 40, punting from their 30. Knoll’s punt pinned Clarke inside their 20, and Clarke worked their way back to Roland-Story’s 36 on passes and hand-offs to Moore, Watson and Castro. As Cooley was pressured on 3rd and 3 with 40-seconds left, he threw down field, and Wilkinson intercepted the pass. Knoll took a knee on their first snap to end the quarter.


Coming back from halftime, Roland-Story received the kickoff. A line drive from Castro was fielded by Wilkinson near the five and he brought it back down and was taken out near the 35. A block in the back by Roland-Story negated the returned, and despite making headway, more penalties against Roland-Story found them on 3rd and 23 at their 32. Knoll punted with the ball bouncing at Clarke’s 30, fielded by Watson.

Clarke looked to get down field but a sack and call for intentional grounding backed up any gains the Indians had made and Clarke had to punt on lack of downs.

On their possession, Roland-Story made it back down the field and Knoll ran it in for a touchdown followed by a point after for another seven.

Mathews fielded the kick from Roland-Story, and Clarke made it to their 23 on a fourth down. There was a flag on the punt by Castro on lack of downs, as he was hit as he punted. Clarke repeated the down, but Castro dropped ball and was tackled as he picked it back up inside Clarke’s 15. Roland-Story took back over at the 11-yard line. A carry by Fiston Carlson brought the ball inside the 10 as the quarter ran out.


Starting on 2nd and 8 from the 9, Carlson picked up three yards to move the Norsemen to the 6, and a pass from Knoll to Riley Larson in the end zone was caught. As a point after moved the score to 35-0, the clock began to run with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

Watson fielded the kick from Knoll, returning it up the far sideline before being pushed out of bounds near the 40. After a time out, Cooley made a quick to Watson for a first down across the 50, then a subsequent incomplete to Watson had the Indians at 2 and 10 at Roland-Story’s 47. A hand-off to Moore got the chains to move, and a pass to Giza moved them to 2 and 3. Another first down was gained on play and one on a penalty against Roland-Story. Inside the 10 on 2nd and 8, Cooley looked for Watson in the end zone and found his man in the back right corner for a touchdown. A kick by Castro after had seven points on the board for Clarke.

Roland-Story was able to made another touchdown, by Jake Berrgren, on their possession with a kick after to widen the score to 42-7. With under three minutes left, Clarke looked to respond as the clock ran, with quick passes from Cooley to Vega and Nall falling incomplete and Moore helping move them down field. On 4th and 5, Cooley dropped back for a long pass that was intercepted by Isaac Hall, and time ran out on the clock.

Clarke finished their regular season 4-4, and 4-5 in the post-season.

Individual stats not available at press time.

Points by quarter

RS: 14–7–7–14

C: 0–0–0–7