Clendenning takes over at Meadowbrook


BYESVILLE – The Meadowbrook High program reached new heights last year – advancing three rounds deep to the OHSAA Division V, Region 19 title game – and the Colts definitely enjoyed the view from there so they are hoping to find their way back up the mountain again this fall.

The 2018 success resulted in an overall record of 9-3 and was the culmination of a four-year span which featured the school’s first playoff appearance in 2015 and then an unforgettable run last fall which took the Colts to Week 13 before the finally were derailed by eventual state runner-up Johnstown-Monroe (45-14).

Meadowbrook actually started the season at 2-3, but each of the losses was to a playoff team (Shadyside, St. Clairsville and Mogadore). The second half, however, saw the Colts get on a big-time role with five straight regular season wins to earn the first home playoff game and victory in school history (beating Oak Hill, 62-13) and then a round two win against Ridgewood (50-25).

With that memory still fresh and a number of key performers returning, there’s been a “changing of the guard” at the top with the departure of Jeff Twiddy, the Colts’ head coach for four years with a 28-17 record and three playoff appearances to his credit. Twiddy accepted a similar position closer to home at Louisville High School.

Enter Coular Clendenning – a 2007 product of Meadowbrook High – to take the reins and keep the train moving forward.

The 29-year old Clendenning began teaching in the 2013-14 school year. He started out as a junior high football/track coach and joined Twiddy’s varsity staff in 2014, first as a defensive backs coach before becoming the co-defensive coordinator in 2016. He has also been the school’s strength and conditioning coach and an assistant track coach for six years.

The challenge of maintaining the recent success is a welcome one for Clendenning.

“Our Xs and Os on the field are full speed ahead,” he said. “They just kept moving forward because we kept things pretty much the same and that’s been exciting because it eased things for the entire staff.”

The new Colts’ boss is still learning to juggle the added responsibilities of being a head coach, however.

“I’m still just Coach Clendenning,” he said. “I’ve always been a players’ coach, but I have so many other things that I have to deal. I’ve got two clipboards now – one for Xs and Os and one for the other things like parents and administration.”

Clendenning knows the bar in Byesville has been raised, but he says the players and coaches are anxious to get after it.

“Last year was the best season in school history, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get there again,” he related. “It a new bar we’ve set and I think our kids are constantly focused on that because when we have an issue come up, you’ll hear them say ‘that’s not going to get us to Week 11.'”

The Colts enter the new season with one thought constantly on their minds.

“Our season motto has been ‘start fast…strain to finish,'” said Clendenning. “We like to play fast, of course, but we sometimes we’d come out a little flat so we’ve got to come out playing smart to get up on teams. Then there were other times we’d do that, but kinda fizzle out in the second half so we need to maintain the approach to be consistent from start to finish.”

While acknowledging the loss of the most-successful senior class in MHS history, the new coach feels good about the talent and experience he welcomes back.

“Each player brings their own style and personality and most of those kids are truly irreplaceable,” said Clendenning of last year’s seniors, “but the kids understand that you’ve got to keep rolling and have that ‘next man up’ approach.

“Our seniors are very driven and they’re great at pulling the program along,” he continued. “They do what is needed and they understand what is needed to make us better.”

Clendenning likes what he sees offensively, with an untested quarterback as a question mark.

“We’ve got three of the five guys on the offensive line that have been varsity starters,” he said. “We also have an explosive running back along with some returnees and good depth at receiver.

“Our quarterback play is very competitive, but they do a good job distributing the ball,” the MHS boss added. “It’s up to us as coaches to get the best 11 on the field and make the necessary adjustments based on what we have.”

While the Colts certainly won’t abandon the passing game, look for senior running back Timmy Ferguson (5-11, 200) to play a prominent role in the offense.

The three-year letterman offers explosiveness in many aspects as a runner/receiver/kick returner. Last season, he rushed 169 times for 1074 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight two-point conversions; caught 18 passes for 283 and two TD; had 320 yards as a kick returner and completed four passes for 48 yards for good measure.

For his efforts, Ferguson was named third team all-Ohio Division V and first team all-East District, all-ECOL Gray and all-OVAC Class 4A.

When he needs a breather, other running backs are sophomore Brady McManaway (5-9, 145), sophomore Kaden Casey (5-9, 165) and junior Tyler Lacey (5-9, 205) along with freshman Sam Bopp (5-2, 130) and junior two-year letterman Anthony Swartz (5-11, 150).

Sophomore Joshua Hupp (6-0, 185) appears the likely starter at quarterback, but it’s not out of the question that the call to go behind center could go at times to junior Davis Singleton (6-2, 190) although he’s currently ticketed as the team’s starter at the H-back position.

The Colts’ three-receiver set is headed by the deadly one-two combination of senior cousins Boston and Addison “Addy” Black, both three-year lettermen. Boston Black (5-11, 155) caught 25 passes for 322 yards and one TD while Addy Black (6-4, 175) was the big-play threat with 19 receptions for 493 yards with seven TDs and six two-point conversions.

Boston Black earned first team all-Ohio Division V honors as a defensive back and also was named first team all-East District and all-ECOL and honorable mention all-OVAC. Addy Black gained second team all-East District recognition.

The other likely starter at wide-out is junior Eric McCulloch (6-3, 195), a two-year letterman.

Returning at center to anchor the Colts’ offensive line is junior Rhett Dyer (6-1, 210), a two-year letterman. He’ll be backed by junior two-year letterman Javier Maldonado Santos (5-11, 310), sophomore Ronald Hare (5-9, 155) and freshman Baile Khune (5-8, 200).

At the right guard post will be sophomore letterman Hayden Loy (5-8, 215), backed by freshman Stephen Jacobs (5-8, 205), freshman Andrew Sweeney (6-0, 185) and sophomore Branden Wheeler (6-2, 180). Junior letterman Kyle Valentine (6-0, 225) will be at left guard, with sophomore Logan Mott (6-0, 165), freshman Austin Steele (6-0, 185) and senior two-year letterman Timothy Chesar (5-7, 260) as back-ups.

The bookend tackles are two veterans – senior Wyatt Rossiter (6-4, 24) and junior Andrew George (6-5, 265), both two-year lettermen. Sophomore Keven Porter (6-2, 185) is behind Rossiter along with sophomore Hayden Kahrig (5-9, 190) and freshman Montana Rossiter (6-2, 235) while sophomore Marshall Dyer (6-1, 230) and freshman Chucky Dyer (6-2, 195) are behind George.

Wyatt Rossiter received second team all-East District and all-ECOL honors along with honorable mention all-OVAC last fall.

The Colts will operate defensively from a base 4-4 alignment, and the stop-troops will play a big part in the team’s success.

“I think our defense is going to be really strong,” said Clendenning. “We have a few key guys to replace, but we also have a bunch of guys who rotated in last year so they’ve got varsity experience and understand our concepts.

“They’ll very athletic and aggressive,” he added. “They really fly to the football.”

Along the defensive front, McCulloch (45 tackles and three QB sacks last year) will be on one side while Wyatt Rossiter (40 tackles) is on the other. Inside, George is tickets for one tackle spot and he’ll be joined by Loy.

End depth comes from Valentine, Mott, Porter, Chucky Dyer, Sweeney, Marshall Rossiter and Kinkade while back-ups at tackle are Marshall Dyer, Jacobs, Maldonado Santos, Chesar, Steele, Khune, and Kahrig.

At inside linebacker, the Colts return a dandy in Hlad, a three-year starter who had 80 total tackles (37 solo stops) to earn second team all-ECOL and special mention all-East District last season.

Hlad is joined on the inside by veteran Rhett Dyer, with back-up LBs including McManaway, Bopp, Lappert, Lacey, Pierce, Hall, Stephens and Phillips.

Meadowbrook is solid at cornerback with Ferguson and Singleton as the front-line performers while Thomas McCulloch, Flowers, Mayle, McGuire, Hare, Jones, Weigand and Wheeler are backups.

Addy Black will lock down one cornerback spot while Todd will be start on the other side.

All-stater Boston Black, who had 72 total tackles (43 solo) and two interceptions last fall, anchors the secondary at the safety or “wolverine” position.

The kicking duties will go to Eubanks, Ferguson and Hupp.

As mentioned earlier, the Colts’ graduation losses were significant including a trio of first team all-Ohio Division V selections – Brady Blattner, Davis Black and CJ Moore.

In addition to all-state, Blattner was first team all-East District/Defensive Player of the Year and the district’s nominee for the prestigious ‘Mr. Football’ award, first team all-ECOL Gray Division/Defensive POY and first team all-OVAC Class 4A and he played in the OHSFCA North-South All-Star Classic.

Black gained first team all-East District/Offensive POY, first team all-ECOL Gray/Offensive POY, first team all-OVAC 4A and he played in both the OHSFCA North-South All-Star Classic and the OVAC Rudy Mumley All-Star Game.

Other losses include Devon Norman, Tyrek Mitchell, Caleb Wilson, Josh Tomplait, Kyle Jennings, William Huff and Timmy Higgins.

Another significant loss is multi-year letterman Garrett Clendenning, a running back-linebacker who recently moved to Mississippi where he’ll spend his senior year honing his baseball skills. He was a second team all-East District and all-ECOL selection.

Clendenning’s coaching staff includes Teryn Jarrett, Tyler Brown, Dalton Secrest, Darius Jones, Eric Hare, Tyler Baker, Zack Eubanks, Bryson Eubanks and Cody Johnson. The junior high coaches are Tom George, Steve Dyer, JD Dyer, Steve Norman and Matt Thomas.

Looking at the Colts’ schedule as they begin their final year in the OVAC and ECOL with an eye on moving into the expanding Muskingum Valley League for the 2020-21 school year, there are two changes as Fort Frye (a Division VI state semifinalist last year) replaces Shadyside in Week 4 and Bloom-Carroll (another perennial playoff team with a highly-touted quarterback) in place of The Linsly School in Week 7.

Meadowbrook moves up from Division V to Division IV this year, making the road to the playoffs a bit tougher.

“Six of our 10 opponents are in Region 15 with us, so every game is going to be important in that regard,” said Clendenning.

“It’s our last year in the ECOL and the OVAC, so it would be nice to put a good stamp on the end of an era competing in those two leagues,” he related, ‘and gain some nice momentum as we move into the MVL.

“Our goal will always be the same – the playoffs,” the MHS coach added, “but we have to take things one game at a time to get there.”

Meadowbrook opens Friday at home against John Glenn and will close out the OVAC/ECOL era and possibly bid adieu to Guernsey County rival Cambridge (at least temporarily) to wrap up the regular season on Nov. 1.


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