By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
If the Rangers show improvement this year, it will be due in large part to the offensive line.
“Everything we do starts with the offensive line. When the line plays well, the team plays well,” Clements Coach Robert Darnell said. “When our line plays well, we can move the ball on anybody.”
The leaders of that line are Jack Danklef, a junior right guard, and Fote Demeris.
“We can’t afford to beat ourselves. We need to avoid mental mistakes, bad handoffs, and missed assignments,” Danklef said. “We need to play smart and really hard and improve a lot in the first three games.”
Danklef prefers pass blocking, but thinks the Rangers running game will be good this year. Danklef will also get some playing time in the defensive line.
Fote Demeris, a senior left guard, will also get some time at defensive end.
“It can be tiring playing both ways, but we don’t have the number of players like other schools do,” Demeris said.
Demeris also prefers pass blocking, but he is excited about this year’s running game.
“Our running game this year is going to be great,” Demeris said.
The Rangers haven’t had much success the past few years, so a good start would be a big boost for the team.
“The first game is really important. We need a confidence boost from our first game and have that carry us into the district season. We need to get some momentum going into district,” Demeris said.
Offensive lines are known to be a close unit, and Clements is no exception.
“We are a pretty tight knit group. We have known each other for a long time, and we hang out with each other outside of football. We get together and talk about the game plan and mess around with each other. Its fun. We are definitely together,” Demeris said. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how we can help each other out. We know when someone needs help and we help each other out. It’s like a family within a family.”
The Rangers have a three-way competition for quarterback between senior John Nork, junior Cameron Reed and sophomore John Perry. The starter will be selected before the first game.
Clements will employ a 3-4 defense this year. In the secondary will be Patrick Elias, Jordan Khalil, and Markeith Blankenship.
Patrick Elias will play both safety and wide receiver.
“I prefer safety because I like hitting people,” Elias said. “At safety, I can stay on top of everything. As a wide receiver, I can go over the middle or outside.”
Blankenship, a transfer from Elkins, will play cornerback and wide receiver.
“I think my skill set is better suited for offense,” Blankenship said. “But I prefer defense. I like to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage, but most of our coverage has the corners playing back off the line.”
Khalil will also play cornerback and wide receiver.
“I think we will have a good season,” Khalil said. “We have had some really strong practices. We just need to come out strong in our first three games, and carry that momentum into the district schedule.”
Clements will play Sam Rayburn on Friday at Veterans Stadium.