Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Entering his second season leading the Clear Creek Amana football program Gabe Bakker was searching for two things.
A new starting quarterback and an identity for his team.
Bakker has found both in senior Andrew Rohret.
Rohret has accounted for 1,850 yards of total offense and 26 touchdowns in his first season at quarterback.
More importantly Rohret has perfectly embodied the tough, gritty, blue-collar attitude that has become the calling card for the Class 3A tenth-ranked Clippers.
“We want to be tough and I think I bring a toughness to the quarterback position,” Rohret said. “We take pride in being tough and I try to do what I can to help us with that.”
There were plenty of holes to fill for Bakker following a 3-6 campaign in his first season at Clear Creek Amana.
At the top of that list was the quarterback position.
Bakker zeroed in on Rohret, a two-year starter at outside linebacker, as the new leader of his offense.
What Rohret has done this season in his new role has exceeded anything Bakker could have imagined.
“I knew what type of kid Andrew was but I didn’t quite understand what he would mean to the team in the regard of changing the attitude of the whole team,” Bakker explained. “He is pretty business like, not too much frills, he just works hard, he’s tough and that’s what our team does.”
Making a linebacker with no career pass attempts the leader of an inexperienced offense may have seemed like an odd decision by Bakker.
It has turned out to be exactly what Clear Creek Amana needed.
Rohret brought the same fire and toughness that helped him rank fourth on the team in tackles as an undersized sophomore to the offensive side of the ball.
He ranks 10th in Class 3A in rushing and is the first Clipper to rush for 1,000 yards since 2015.
Behind the leadership of Rohret Clear Creek Amana won a school-record eight games during the regular season to return to the 3A postseason for the first time since 2015.
Clear Creek Amana opens postseason play of Friday at 7 p.m. at Decorah (7-2).
“He is the leader of our football team, the kids all look up to him and he’s that way on both sides of the ball,” Bakker said. “He’s the hardest nosed kid we have out there on defense, he flies around and has fun and he plays offense that way.”
It took some time for Rohret to adjust to his new role.
The biggest adjustment in his new offensive role was understanding defenses schemes and everything else that came with being the team’s unquestioned leader.
“Just getting used to reading defenses was a big adjustment since I had never really played quarterback,” Rohret said. “I had to get used to all the pressure it brings and leading the team.”
Rohret proved to be a quick study.
He rushed for more than 100 yards in five of the final seven games of the regular season, scoring 12 touchdowns during that span.
Rohret has rushed for 1,024 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season and averages better than six yards per carry.
His running style, as a physical downhill runner that seeks out contact is unusual for a quarterback but the perfect hit for a Clipper unit that wants to be physical in running the football.
“We knew we were going to have to run the football with him and that adds a new dimension to your offense and I really enjoy that but he has taken it to more of a level than I thought he would with his toughness and his finishing runs,” Bakker said. “Some of our best plays have been quarterback sneaks when he just puts his head down and breaks a tackle and goes.”
Rohret has shown his biggest growth in the passing game.
He has eight touchdown passes with just two interceptions in the final seven games and has thrown for 826 yards and 11 touchdown this season.
“His decision making has gotten better as the year went on just from varsity experience,” Bakker said. “He usually makes the easy throw, if there is any doubt he’s going to use his legs and that has really helped us keep our turnovers down. He doesn’t take a lot of big chances but when he has they have really paid off for us this season.”
The offensive success for Rohret has helped create an identity on that side of the ball for the Clippers.
Defense is still the top choice for the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Rohret who ranks third on the team with 42.5 tackles including seven for loss and three sacks.
“I think it’s just more fun to play more defense,” Rohret said. “You are with your teammates as a group on defense, you celebrate with those guys, it’s a lot of fun.”
A quarterback that thinks playing defense is more fun than scoring touchdowns.
That is Rohret and that is why he’s the perfect leader for the Clippers.
“He has been awesome for our team and he means a lot to us with his attitude, kids follow that,” Bakker said. “They come to practice, there isn’t a lot of thrills with it we just come to work and in our wins this year that is how we’ve played.”
Rohret was a starter on the 2016 Clipper squad that started 6-0 but lost two of its final three games and missed the playoffs.
There were times during a three-win season last fall when he figured his shot at a playoff game were gone.
“Last year we graduated a lot of seniors and we didn’t have a very good record so I don’t know how expectations were but after a few games when we were 3-0 we really thought we have a chance,” Rohret said. “We saw we were a pretty good team.”
This season Rohret has been the biggest reason the Clippers started 7-0 for the first time in program history and are headed back to the postseason.
A playoff victory would be the perfect feather in the cap for Rohret and his fellow seniors who have raised the bar at Clear Creek Amana.
To earn a win on Friday the Clippers will need to get past Decorah a tough, hard-nosed, defensive minded power-running football team built on the same foundation as Clear Creek Amana.
In other words the type of team that Rohret loves to play against.
“It’s going to be fun, we matchup really well, they are a lot like us,” Rohret said. “It should be a really good game.”