MADISON — Scott High seniors Dane Messer, Michael Clay, Leon May and Jeff McCoy have seen many changes in the football program at the Cardinal Conference school but they are confident in the stability that they’ve felt under Coach Shane Griffith since 2019 when he took over the program for a second tenure.
“He brought it all together for us,” said Clay. “We’ve been through a lot of changes and a ton of injuries along the way. It feels good to be where we are right now.”
Clay, a 6-foot-1 255-pound fullback in the squad’s triple option attack, literally outgrew his old positions at quarterback and tight end. He could play on the line but his coach sees too many ball skills to slide him to the interior.
“I’ve seen these seniors grow into leaders and that is what we needed to happen,” Griffith said about the trio. “They’ve done what we’ve asked them to do and that benefits our team. I’m excited for them and they deserve to taste success.”
Clay suffered a broken collarbone as a sophomore signal caller and he was sidelined for part of the season. He switched to tight end early in his junior year and can play linebacker or defensive line on the other side of the ball.
“We’re keeping the mindset that we’ll get to play every game and coach is preparing us that way,” Clay added. “The truth is with COVID-19 we don’t know what the future holds but it isn’t affecting how we work and prepare.”
Clay said that taking on a new position as a senior feels natural to him. He feels like a fullback.
“I’ve been moving around all through high school and this is the right fit for me,” he said. “I’ve worked to get stronger and I feel great. I even played wide receiver against Herbert Hoover last year. It really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to compete.”
According to CVN records, Messer led the Skyhawks in tackles in 2019. He coach feels that he has a nose for the football and looks for another outstanding year of production from the linebacker.
“My goals are team-related and I want to make the playoffs,” he said. “I think this is the fastest team we’ve put on the field since I’ve been here. We’re pretty athletic and even our guys up front move really well. That is our strength, I think.”
Messer said that with just four seniors, leading the squad has to be a priority. Defense is where he feels most at home.
“We have some young guys at some positions and they have to step up for us but it is our job to lead and show them the way,” he added. Coach (Nick) Shreve and I communicate a lot out there on defense and that helps me. Our defense feels real good early on. We’ve got a lot done in a short time.”
May plays offensive tackle said that he is ready for the season to get started and that he made great memories with his coaches and teammates.
“I’ve had a lot of fun so far this year,” he said. “We’ve worked really hard and I’m excited for the season to start.”
McCoy lines up at receiver and he brings ball skills to the team and as a guard for the Skyhawk basketball team, he sees going up for the ball as something natural. His coach said that his hands have developed nicely and he looks for McCoy to make the catch when quarterback Klay Mathews finds him.
“In basketball, it doesn’t matter where you play on the floor you’ve got to go up and get the ball when it is in the air,” he said. “I think it is something that just becomes natural over time. It is a different game but that holds true in football, too if you really think about it.”
He continued, “As a receiver, when the ball is in the air it is my job to go and get it. I’ve really worked on getting position on the defender and taking the ball down and securing it.”
While the Skyhawks will run the triple option offensive set, their coach said they will throw the ball out of it a little more and perhaps receivers will get more touches in 2020.
McCoy considers himself a student of the game and he likes watching great receivers catch the ball. He cites NFL films as his favorite resource. Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins is his favorite.
“He says that in every practice he doesn’t want to drop a pass and I want to be like that,” he added. “If I want to have the opportunity to catch balls, I have to prove to my coach and team that I can be counted on and when the time comes, I won’t drop it.”
The gridders understand the importance of rivalries and as freshmen, they were able to play in the Van series in a cross-county collision that Scott won. With Sherman on the schedule in week four, a series that hasn’t been played in over a decade is back in motion. They understand what the game means in terms of county-related bragging rights. Their former teammate Alan Javins is now in a maroon and gold uniform after transferring to where his father Daniel Javins (1989) wore a Sherman uniform.
“We understand that history and we hear about it but right now our focus is Wayne (opening game),” Messer said. “We can’t look that far ahead to week four.”
Scott opens their season on Sept. 4 at Cardinal Conference foe Wayne.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or at 304-307-2401.