Beavers gearing up for bright future
SALEM — Two Beaver Local teammates will be suiting up one last time on the high school level before taking their talents and playing at the same school on at the college level.
Beaver Local’s Zach Thomas and Michael Clendenning are preparing to play for the Ohio All-Stars in the 39th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Football Classic on June 28 at Reilly Stadium ahead of walking on for the Youngstown State University football team.
“This means a lot,” Thomas said. “We’ve been playing together since we were young so now we are finally playing our final high school game before moving onto the next level.”
“This is a great experience to partake in,” Clendenning said. “This game has a rich history and it feels great to be able to play one more time representing Beaver Local.”
When Thomas found out he was going to be a member of the Ohio squad his excitement couldn’t be contained.
“When I got the text from coach (Dan) Yeagley I was in class and had to leave because I was real excited,” Thomas said. “I had to go in the hallway and give a quick fist pump.”
Thomas and Clendenning will be roommates at YSU in the fall.
“We are brothers,” Thomas said. “We are going to be roommates now so we are going to finish out strong on the high school level and keep that bond going on to this fall.”
Beaver Local finished the 2017 season at 7-3 and just missed out on a playoff spot in Division IV.
Clendenning, who only played in six full games due to injury last fall, made the most of his time with 1,190 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Thomas, at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, was a leader on the offensive line and a big reason for the Clendenning’s success.
“I know Zach had my back all these years running behind him,” Clendenning said. “He’s always been a great teammate.”
While playing as teammates again on the high school level one more time has been a memorable opportunity, the Beavers have enjoyed getting to know talent they’ve played against in the past.
“We’ve played against these guys in the past and never really knew them,” Clendenning said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to know some of these guys.”
Playing among the area talent the duo said has been a primer for what’s to come on the college level.
“You are playing with a lot of kids you don’t know but we’ve been making friends real easy,” Thomas said. “I think this is going translate on the next level where you don’t know a lot of kids that have a lot of talent and learning to play with them as a team.”
Thomas and Clendenning have thoughts of YSU daily as the next level approaches.
“We talk about YSU everyday,”: Thomas said. “We remind each other of our work ethic and the goals we want to achieve.”
Before that, the two have a goal on mind of beating a talented Pennsylvania squad before taking the field with a chance of being on the Penguins’ football team at Stambaugh Stadium.
“This is one of longest running all-star games around,” Clendenning said. “I’m glad I get to represent Ohio and my school in my last high school game. Hopefully we play well here and this is a sign of a bright future to come,”
“There is so much talent around here,” Thomas said. “This is going to be a good game for sure.”
¯ Salem quarterback Mitch Davidson, another members of the Ohio squad, also is walking on the Youngstown State football team.