Brennan South

Clear Fork senior quarterback Brennan South looks downfield as he scrambles for yardage on Friday night against Madison at the Colt Corral.

BELLVILLE -- As far as Dave Carroll is concerned, there is only one way his Clear Fork football team can repay the folks in the Valley.

"It's what I was talking to the players about before the scrimmage," the veteran coach said Friday night after his Colts dedicated the new turf field at the Colt Corral with an exhibition win against Madison.

"We owe all of these people so much for giving us such a wonderful place to play this great game. The only way we can ever pay them back is to work our butts off and give them high-quality football and great effort because that's what they want," Carroll said.

The Colts and Rams played two quarters in what the Ohio High School Athletic Association calls a "jamboree game," a dress rehearsal of sorts before the regular season starts in a week.

Coming off back-to-back unbeaten regular seasons, including a 12-1 mark in 2018, Clear Fork dominated the "game" against the Rams, outscoring the visitors, 28-7.

But the new turf field was the star of the evening.

"The kids love it. We love it. It's just so beautiful," Carroll said. "I always thought we had the most beautiful stadium in the state of Ohio for a small school with all these surrounding hills. You put this (turf) down and it's just incredible."

"We have been able to practice on it here and there. The kids think it's like Christmas when we get to practice on it," Carroll said.

Dave Carroll

Clear Fork coach Dave Carroll directs his Colts from the sidelines on Friday night. (Photo by Jeff Hoffer/Special to Richland Source)

Senior quarterback/defensive back Brennan South certainly enjoyed it Friday night, passing and running for multiple TDs.

"It makes us a lot faster on offense and defense," he said. "It's easier to cut on. There is no slipping. It makes everything a whole lot better.

"That stuff is just like a pillow right now. If you get knocked down, you can just get right back up. It doesn't feel like anything," South said.

As far as Carroll is concerned, speed kills.

"We put a high premium on speed ... most coaches do. That's what we gear our weight program around and our off-season training. We took pictures for the program the other day. One of the special pictures that goes into the program is anyone who ran a 4.9 or under 40-yard dash.

"We had 26 guys ... almost half the team. For a small school like Clear Fork, that's pretty impressive. We're not the biggest, we're not the strongest, but when you have speed, that can overcome some of those things," Carroll said.

The new turf has already been put to the test. On a recent Tuesday, in a pouring rain, the girls' soccer team had a scrimmage in the late afternoon and the football team had a scrimmage in the evening.

"It was a deluge," Carroll said. "(On the old grass field), there is no way either of us could have played on the game field. We would have had to go to Butler or somewhere else. We both got the scrimmages in and it was awesome. We're excited about it."

Clear Fork

A Clear Fork runner finds open field Friday night against the Madison Rams at the Colt Corral. (Photo by Jeff Hoffer/Special to Richland Source)

One man with a big smile Friday night was Chris Laux, who chaired the committee for stadium improvements. He helped lead the year-long, private fundraising campaign that generated more than $1 million in cash donations, pledges and in-kind donations, more than necessary to do the work.

"It is just absolutely beautiful," said Laux, who also coaches the girls' soccer team. "It's just amazing what can happen when people get behind something. The Valley has just been incredible in terms of their support.

"We started talking about it a little over a year ago and got into it heavy about eight months ago. I have done these kind of capital campaigns before. You get it before the the right people, get it to the 60 or 70 percent level, and then you launch it to the rest of the public.

"The right people were supportive of this project and that's what made it happen," Laux said.

Clear Fork opens the regular season on Aug. 30 with a non-league game at Fredericktown. Madison hosts Shelby in a non-league game that same night.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"

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