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Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 5 months ago

Former Cardinal Mooney quarterback comes home

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Jared Clark is now leading the school's football program.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

With a wife and kids at home, Jared Clark was content as an assistant football coach at Riverview High. 

Clark, who has been in coaching for 15 years, said he had always had thoughts about becoming a head coach — every coach does — but rarely thought about his own future in those terms. He had a good thing going as the Rams' offensive coordinator, serving under coach Josh Smithers and helping lead the team to consistent success, including a state semifinals appearance in 2018. He could go about his coaching work and then go home.

Through it all, he thought to himself he'd only consider leaving for one gig: The top coaching job at Cardinal Mooney High, his alma mater. Clark quarterbacked the Cougars under coach Mike Dowling before graduating in 2000 to play for Notre Dame. Since then, he has maintained friendships with people in the Mooney community, he said, and he believes it to be a special place. 

"So when they called and we starting talking about the opportunity, I knew it was something I had to consider," Clark said. "I didn't know if I would get this opportunity again."

So, after talking about it with him family, Clark took it. Cardinal Mooney's own is coming home. 

Clark said the challenge will allow him to grow as a football coach, as a leader and as a man. He has already been conducting workouts with his new team, getting to know the players, assistant coaches and staff members. At Riverview, Clark said, he learned how to hold players accountable and to teach them the importance of doing so. He will treat the players like his own kids, and not just the starters, but everyone, because while some players may not see much playing time, they can still leave the program being better people. They will take things learned in practice and in the weight room and carry it throughout their lives, Clark said. 

He also plans on keeping communications simple — another thing he learned from Smithers — so everyone knows what their roles are and what is expected. At Riverview, Clark ran a run-heavy offense, especially in 2018 and 2019, but he said he is not necessarily married to that scheme. Instead, Clark said, he plans on tailoring his playbook to his players' strengths, with a focus on getting the ball to his best playmakers in space, so they have room to put their talents to use. 

Clark is taking over for Paul Maechtle, who retired in December after two years at Mooney and 35 years overall. Clark was previously an assistant coach with Maechtle under Smithers at Mooney .

"Me and Josh (Smithers) would walk in from a practice and be talking how awful it was, and coach Maechtle would come in and say, 'Man, we were really good at not fumbling the ball today,' or whatever it was that day," Clark said. "He always was able to pick a positive, and that has stuck with me as a coach."

By combining his influences, Clark hopes to get the Cougars up to speed quickly, but he also hopes to make a greater impact. 

"My expectations of this program are to develop boys into young men," Clark said."I want to give them the tools to be successful."

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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