Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Something was missing from the Clear Creek Amana defense during an 0-3 start last season.
There was a lack of continuity during the early tenure of a new coaching staff and building cohesiveness was an issue as the Clippers broke in a number of first-year starters.
Mostly, what was absent on the defensive side of the ball to start last season was confidence.
Few Clipper defenders felt less confident than Quentin Gisleson.
“I was kind of scared to say the least,” Gisleson said of last season. “In the beginning of the season I didn’t even really want to go in to games.”
By the end of last season Gisleson wasn’t just getting in to games he was a game-changing member of the Clippers secondary.
Fast forward to this fall and a lack of confidence is no longer an issue for the Clippers thanks in large part to their senior lockdown corner.
Gisleson has brought some much-needed swagger to a Clear Creek Amana (2-0) defensive unit that hasn’t allowed a point in its last seven quarters entering Friday’s matchup with unbeaten Fort Madison (2-0) in Tiffin.
“I’m a lot more aggressive, I’m more physical and I’m just more confident,” Gisleson said. “My confidence has just risen.”
Gisleson played sparingly in the first two games last season, making 1.5 tackles in losses to Mount Pleasant and Independence.
First-year head coach Gabe Bakker called on Gisleson in a week three matchup with Dubuque Wahlert and he responded with the first two interceptions of his career.
“The first couple of games he was pretty timid,” Bakker said. “He wasn’t very confident but as he went he just got more confident and more confident and this year he has taken a leadership role.”
That game was the first of back-to-back two-interception performances for Gisleson who picked off two passes the next week in a win over Maquoketa.
Since his first start Gisleson has become a stalwart in the Clipper secondary.
Gisleson has forced a turnover in six of his nine career starts and has seven interceptions during that span.
“I didn’t start the first few games and then I just kind of got thrown in,” Gisleson said. “As the season progressed the sacredness mellowed out and it began to get really fun.”
Bigger, stronger and even more confident Gisleson has become the leader of Clear Creek Amana secondary that stands as a strength of the defense.
“He just had a knack for the football and he’s started to really enjoy it,” Bakker said. “He isn’t a big rah-rah or vocal kid but he’s always the hardest worker and the kids look up to him.”
At 5-foot-11 and 162 pounds Gisleson isn’t the biggest player on the field.
He’s often faced with defending taller receivers or brining down heavier running backs.
For a player that once lacked confidence those things no longer bother him.
“I’ve just gotten a lot more comfortable,” Gisleson said. “Last year I saw myself as a pretty small kid compared to everybody else but I realized that even though I am small I can go up against these bigger guys.”
Gisleson has been a big reason the Clippers have gone from 0-2 last season to 2-0 this year.
He picked off a pass in a season-opening win over Mount Pleasant and recovered a fumble in the end zone last week in a 29-0 shutout of Fairfield.
“Last year was very disappointing,” Gisleson said. “I feel like this year we are miles ahead of where we were last year and it could be a lot better year than it was last year.”
Through two games Clear Creek Amana is holding opponents to 240 yards and 3.5 points per game.
Opponents are averaging just 135 passing yards per game against Clear Creek Amana in two games and have yet to throw a touchdown pass.
The Clippers will get another test this week against Fort Madison quarterback Lennon Barker who is completing 60 percent of his passes and averaging 310 passing yards per game.
“I really think that the secondary is a strength for us,” Bakker said. “We have some seniors and juniors that have played a lot of football for us back there. They understand what we are doing, we have simplified dour scheme and it has worked well so far.”
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