Schoolcraft junior - Football
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound running back enjoyed in one game what for many is a season’s worth of scoring. Clark racked up an MHSAA-record nine rushing touchdowns in leading his team to a 63-27 win over Constantine to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Clark ended the night with 26 carries for 380 yards, and after six games this season has run 110 times for 1,022 yards and 24 touchdowns – he also has four receiving scores. Clark joined the varsity for the eighth game of his freshman year in 2016, when Schoolcraft finished 10-1, and took on a fulltime role as a sophomore as the Eagles finished 5-5 and made the playoffs for the ninth straight season. Schoolcraft currently is 5-1 and tied for first in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley under first-year coach Nathan Ferency, as Clark helps shoulder the offensive load with 53 percent of the team’s yardage and 62 percent of its points.
He’s also carrying on quite a family tradition; his older brothers Benny Clark III and Ricky both were stars for the Eagles, Benny as a running back and Ricky as a quarterback, and their father Benny Clark Jr. is the fifth-leading rusher in MHSAA history after gaining 7,212 from 1993-96 at Ravenna. Kobe Clark also plays point guard for the basketball team – he made first-team all-league last winter – and runs the 100 and 400 meters and on the 400 relay during track season. He advanced to the MHSAA Finals as part of that relay this spring.
Coach Nathan Ferency said: “Kobe has been so impressive because of his elusiveness. He is a tremendous athlete that can do things with his feet that most cannot. Kobe needs about six inches of space, and he is gone. His football intelligence and vision while carrying the football have to be noted too. He is hands-down capable of playing at the next level. I am thankful that isn't for another season!”
Performance Point: “All of this attention, it’s weird, but it’s nice. It’s crazy that I have the state record now, out of everyone in Michigan. … We were trapping a lot; that worked really good … when our guard pulls and leads through the whole for me. My guards and tackles were the guys who would make a block, and I would get to the next level.”
Unsung up front: I love those guys (on the line). My favorite guys on the team right there. They think (the record) is awesome, but it’s not just me, it’s them – a whole team effort. They should be getting just as much attention. They’ve been talking me up and saying it’s awesome for me, which I appreciate, but they’re the guys who helped me get it.”
Next Clark in line: “(My dad) is glad for me. He just told me to thank the line, which I do. … I always looked up to (my brothers), and I always wanted to be better than everyone in my family, because that’s what you work for. They just said, ‘Keep working. You’re doing great things right now. Keep it going.’”
New year, new game: “I’ve gotten a lot faster, and I’ve just been working toward getting better every year – conditioning, and I’ve been in the weight room a lot. I’ve gotten a lot bigger, especially the last year. It seems a lot different, because we’re in a new offense this year too. We got a new coach and we have just bonded, and we have a good connection.”
Coaching us up: “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time playing football. Everyone’s bonding on our team and getting along great. Coach just knows every player on our team and gets along with everyone, and he’s just a great coach. He makes everything so much more energetic and fun, and he just has a great competitive side to him, and he loves to win.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Past 2018-19 honorees
PHOTOS: (Top) Schoolcraft's Kobe Clark gets past a Berrien Springs defender. (Middle) Clark, during pregame. (Photos courtesy of JoeInsider.com.)
DETROIT – Isaiah Marshall took a second Sunday night to think about the interception he’d just thrown that led to Belleville taking a late lead in the Division 1 Football Final.
But just a second.
When Marshall and his Southfield Arts & Technology teammates took the field down four points with 4 minutes, 47 seconds remaining at Ford Field, the interception wasn’t on his mind. Neither was the raucous Belleville crowd that had awoken on the home side of the stadium.
He wasn’t thinking about stopping a three-peat or snapping a 38-game Belleville win streak. He wasn’t thinking about the talk he’d heard during the week leading up to the game, that his team was on its way to getting blown out like so many of those previous 38 opponents.
All Marshall was focused on was doing his job.
“As soon as I threw the pick, I knew what I had to do differently,” Marshall said. “I just wasn’t thinking about that last play. As soon as I threw the pick, I just thought about it on the bench, then as soon as I came out, it wasn’t on my mind at all. I just knew I had to go down the field and score.”
Like he had all night, Marshall came through when the Warriors needed him most, leading his team on a 69-yard scoring drive, finishing the final 11 with his legs for the go-ahead score in Southfield A&T’s 36-32 victory against Belleville.
His defense finished the rest, as Dorian Freeman intercepted a pass during the final seconds, sealing the first Finals title for Southfield.
“It’s special,” A&T coach Aaron Marshall said. “It’s special for the community. It’s a long time coming. All week I’ve been getting calls from guys I’ve never met just congratulating the boys on making it. We had never even made it to the championship game, let alone won one. It’s real big for the community. I’m really proud.”
To do it, the Warriors needed to overcome the team that has dominated Division 1 for the past three seasons in Belleville (13-1). The Tigers had won the past two Division 1 Finals, and hadn’t dropped a game since Sept. 10, 2021.
They entered Sunday having outscored opponents this fall by an average of 49-7. They also featured the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2025 in quarterback Bryce Underwood.
But Sunday, none of that mattered to Marshall and the Warriors (13-1). Well, except maybe the last part.
“Just a little bit,” Marshall said when asked if he was out to prove he was the state’s top quarterback. “I do think I’m the best player in the state. Me proving that tonight, and showing what I can do on the big stage shows that, I think.”
He finished the night completing 20 of 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. He also rushed for 134 yards and the go-ahead score, as well as the two-point conversion that put his team up four.
“He came out there and played like I thought he was going to play,” said Belleville star linebacker and running back Jeremiah Beasley, who has committed to Michigan. “He’s a real tough player. Since we were little, he’s always been tough. He came out there and played with all his heart, and they came out on top.”
Underwood certainly had his moments, finishing 11 for 24 for 164 yards and a touchdown to go along with one interception. He also had five rushes for 39 yards.
And A&T was certainly cognizant of what Underwood could do, especially when he got the ball back with 47 seconds to play and a chance to take the lead. But by playing coverage, they didn’t allow the Tigers to push the ball down the field, and eventually pressure from senior defensive tackle Reggie Gardner forced the throw that Freeman intercepted to clinch the game.
“My coaches just told me to spy the quarterback, and whatever he did, I would go,” Freeman said. “Then it was just right in my zone.”
A&T led for most of the game, getting a pair of rushing touchdowns from Mathias Davis during the first half, the second score giving them a 12-7 lead.
After a 31-yard field goal from Belleville’s Brayden Lane made the score 12-10, Marshall engineered an 80-yard drive over the final three minutes of the second quarter to give his team a 10-point lead at the half. He accounted for 79 of the 80 yards with either his legs or his arm, finishing it off with a 13-yard TD pass to Tashi Braceful with 13 seconds remaining in the half. Braceful finished the night with 10 catches for 152 yards.
The Warriors nearly added to that halftime lead, as well, recovering a squib kick at the Belleville 43. Marshall hit Tyjuan Esper for a 38-yard gain on the next play, but he was tackled as the first-half clock expired.
Early in the third quarter, Marshall and the Warriors did stretch their lead when he threw a 19-yard TD pass to Xavi Bowman on a 4th-and-14. DaMario Quarles’ conversion run put them up 28-10 with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.
Of course, Belleville didn’t go away.
The Tigers responded immediately with a 45-yard TD pass from Underwood to Jalen Johnson. And after stopping Marshall on a 4th-and-2 run near midfield, they needed just three plays and 30 seconds to pull within three points of the lead as Beasley scored on a 15-yard run.
On the next A&T possession, Marquis Peoples put Belleville right back in business with an interception that he returned to the 35-yard line. Beasley again cashed in three plays later, with a 22-yard TD run that gave Belleville a 33-27 lead with 4:47 remaining.
Beasley finished the night with 106 yards and the two touchdowns on the ground.
“He’s a senior ball player; he did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Belleville coach Calvin Norman said of Beasley. “He came through in the clutch. When he ran the ball, he did his thing. I have nothing but love for the young man.”
Belleville cornerback Adrian Walker made one of the more remarkable plays of the weekend late in the first quarter, intercepting a Marshall pass deep in A&T territory.
Walker got both hands on the pass, deflecting it up and toward himself as he was spinning up the field. The ball went over his head and Walker reached behind his back to make the catch at the A&T 26.
Four plays later, Belleville was on the board with a 16-yard Colbey Reed touchdown run, and the Tigers led 7-6.
PHOTOS (Top) Southfield A&T quarterback Isaiah Marshall stretches for the game-winning touchdown during Sunday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) The Warriors ended the night by raising their first championship trophy. (Below) Belleville’s Adrian Walker (2) makes a stunning behind-the-back interception. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)