While on his recruiting trip to Benedictine, Clarence Clark, a standout football and soccer athlete from Phoenix, took some advice from his uncle and made an additional visit while in Kansas.
The uncle is Kevin Lockett, the former Kansas State star wide receiver who spent four of his seven NFL seasons with the Chiefs.
Turned out, Lockett is friends with Baker coach Mike Grossner, and he steered his nephew to Baldwin City.
“I kind of told Benedictine I was going to hang out with my aunt and uncle and I snuck over here (to Baker),” Clark said. “They’ve (Benedictine) been kind of mad at me ever since.”
The Ravens’ mood didn’t change on Saturday after absorbing a 60-7 loss to the Wildcats in an outcome that could not have been anticipated.
Baker, ranked No. 4 in NAIA, has been rolling opponents this season, including an 89-point total earlier this month. Benedictine, 3-2, is No. 12 and entered the game with a stout defense that was surrendering fewer than 10 points per game.
But the Wildcats took control of the game early. The up-tempo offense led by former Blue Valley High standout Logan Brettell, motored for a touchdown on the first possession. It was 26-7 at halftime, and by then Clark, a junior, had become the school’s career leader in receiving yards, his record-setting catch occurring on an 8-yard touchdown reception.
Clark took a helmet on the thigh on the play, which meant he couldn’t kick the extra point. He did boot six others and added a 24-yard field goal. He no longer plays soccer but gets in plenty of kicks on extra points for the high-scoring offense.
“We’ve been practicing this offense all summer, and to be up-tempo all game you have to be an in-shape team,” said Brettell, who completed 33 of 46 passes for 393 yards and three touchdowns. “We worked very hard on our conditioning.”
The margin grew on the strength of the defense, which returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in the second half, part of a six-turnover day for Benedictine.
This is Grossner’s 13th season at Baker, and the program is bidding for its third Heart of America Conference championship in four years. The Wildcats won their NAIA Playoffs opener last season before falling, but this team appears to have the speed and athleticism to make a deeper run.
“Offensively we go fast,” Grossner said. “Defensively we’ve found some depth. It’s as good as any team I’ve had overall.”