West Bend East senior football player, Matthew Clark was named the 2018 Defensive player of the year. This is the first time in the history of West Bend, that an East player walked away with the honors. The Daily news article is included below. Congratulations Matt on a great year and great honors
2018 DAILY NEWS ALL-COUNTY FOOTBALL TEAM — DEFENSE
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
West Bend East’s Matthew Clark Being thrown into the fire made senior stronger
STORY BY ADAM LINDEMER ■ DAILY NEWS
It was trial by fire for West Bend East’s Matthew Clark.
After a successful freshman football season, varsity coach Jeff Rondorf slipped a sophomore Clark into the varsity’s defensive starting lineup.
For three years, Clark never gave up the position.
“He started every game since his sophomore year,” Rondorf said. “With him being a sophomore, we were a little worried that he’d be undersized, but he had a nose for the football. He went full speed every play.”
Clark recalled of his sophomore season, “It was time to step up. I wasn’t certain I’d start, but I worked hard and I knew there was a good chance.”
He made 64 tackles — with seven for a loss — and recorded a sack his sophomore year. The next two seasons, he led the Suns in tackles.
He totaled 92 as a junior and earned All-North Shore Conference honorable mention status. He followed that with 107 tackles and 1.5 sacks this year, and was named to the All-NSC first team. Clark notched 263 tackles in three years.
Recently, he was voted the 2018 Daily News’ All-County Defensive Football Player of the Year as selected by the Daily News sports staff and the eight county coaches.
“He was the team leader, as evident when he was on defense,” Rondorf said. “It was more evident when he was on offense, playing fullback. Just the way he played, and how he prepared, guys respected it and they wanted to emulate it.”
Clark also helped the Suns break their playoff drought, as they reached the postseason in his final two seasons. East had missed the playoffs the previous five seasons.
In each season though, East lost in the opening round.
See CLARK, PAGE B2
Photo by John Ehlke/Daily News
From Page 1B
NSC foe Hartford Union knocked East out each time, including a 30-22 result this season.
“It was a real rough go because I wanted to keep winning. That was a terrible day,” Clark said of his final game for East. “All eight years, going back to youth football, ended there. It was terrible … hard to to explain.”
Upon entering high school, Clark and his freshmen teammates did not lose a game on the gridiron that year. With holes to be filled, the players knew that some might get bumped up to varsity.
Clark was one of the lucky ones that was able to stick with the varsity all year. It was also the Suns’ final season in the now-defunct Wisconsin Little Ten Conference.
“It’s not easy for a sophomore to play varsity, especially at that defensive position,” Rondorf said. “He was going against juniors and seniors on the line. We asked a lot out of him as a sophomore, but he never backed down and never shied away from contact.”
Rondorf didn’t know how Clark would hold up. Time and time again, the then sophomore linebacker answered the call.
Despite not being the main focal point on the defense that season, Clark still caught the eyes of the coaching staff.
“I thought he’d hit a wall that sophomore year, but he never did,” Rondorf said. “He made plays week 1 and we saw spurts in week 2. By week 3 — conference play — he was consistently making plays. In his third game, he proved he belonged.” After the first varsity game, against a powerhouse Kewaskum team, Clark knew he was at a much different level.
“It was a huge jump from freshman football to varsity,” Clark said. “It was a rude awakening. I was getting tossed around. There was a huge skill gap, but I was able to find my spots and make some plays.”
Kewaskum hung on for a 34-27 victory that game. The Suns only won twice that season.
Clark also played through an injury.
“I broke my hand early in the year and I didn’t think I played to my full potential,” Clark said. “That second year (on
varsity), I played with more confidence and felt that I had done a lot more.”
The victories increased each year, too. East won four games in Clark’s junior campaign and six the next year. Clark made strides in his game, as well, each year.
“As the years went on, he got faster and bigger, which made him that much better,” Rondorf said.
Rondorf said that Clark let his game do the talking, as evident by leading the team tackles as an upperclassman. When Clark was needed for leadership, he’d be there.
“He wasn’t that vocal, it’s just not the way he is,” Rondorf said. “But when something needed to be said, he’d say it.” East senior defensive back Cooper Schlosser added, “He was always motivating you and pushing you to be better at everything. He was always happy. He wanted to make sure those around him feel positive.”
Clark started to play with most of his teammates in the fifth grade, in the West Bend Youth Football Organization. It was easy for Clark to later speak up in those moments when something needed to be said because of the closeness over the previous six or seven years.
“It was a family atmosphere that started in youth football and built up in seventh and eighth grade,” Clark said. “Our freshman team was insanely dominant and we were able to build that bond with all the guys on the team.”
Schlosser added, “It was awesome playing with him for the past eight years.”
After eight years, it was easy for Clark to pick what he’ll miss next year.
“The jokes with (coach) Rondorf, the little foolish stuff and just being with the guys is what I’ll miss,” Clark said.
All-County Defense Honorable mention
Danny Cain, KML (Sr. DL); John Schirger, Living Word (DL, Sr.); Tommy Boden, Slinger (LB, Sr.); Caleb Knoll, East (LB, Sr.); Kannon Muckerheide, Kewaskum (LB, Soph.); Michael Nelson, Germantown (LB, Sr.); Tim Seramur, Hartford Union (LB, Sr.); Kyle Farina, Germantown (DB, Sr.); Ryan Prochnow, Kewaskum (DB, Sr.); Scott Savage, Hartford (P, Sr.)