Thursday, August 31, 2000

Gold star for Cloran: A touchdown 3-way

        Drew Cloran is a triple threat. He might have been a quadruple threat, but his coach won't let him do the kicking.

        Except for the extra points and the halftime show, the Madeira High School junior does it all on the football field: offense, defense, special teams. Last Friday, in a season-opening 43-10 romp over Ludlow, Cloran ran 28 yards for a touchdown, returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and was credited with a safety.

        The only thing stopping him was substitution. Cloran had one of those nights when it's tough to tell where the reality ends and the fantasy begins, a prep school pipe dream come true.

        Odds are, the grandchildren are probably going to get pretty tired of this tale.

        For the record, the safety was probably bogus. Cloran got the credit in the papers, but Madeira coach Tim Viox said Brett Underwood did most of the actual tackling. Still, Cloran scored three touchdowns in three different capacities and reached double figures in tackles despite missing most of the second half out of mercy.

Friday night lights
        “I had a good night,” Cloran admitted under intense cross-examination.

        “Did you get a game ball?” he was asked.

        “We don't give out game balls,” he said. “But I've got the memory.”

        For most high school athletes, memories don't get much better than this. Competition gets only keener at the college level, and just a fortunate few ever make a living playing professionally.

        For guys like Cloran — 5-foot-11, 180 pounds — being the big man at Madeira may prove to be the apex of his athletic career. Here's hoping he savors every second, as well as the free meal he gets at JK's Chili for being the Mustangs' player of the week.

        The big-time college scouts don't often make it to the smaller schools, and Cloran will get crossed off a lot of their recruiting lists because of his size. Ohio State's cornerbacks are bigger than Cloran, and the Buckeyes' starting linebackers outweigh him by 45 to 60 pounds.

        “He couldn't play linebacker at a major college, but I think he could be a heck of a strong safety,” Viox said. “Wrestling kind of brings his weight down a little bit, but with his hitting ability and the way he plays the game, I think some people should look at him. It's not an exact science.”

For love of the game
        What many people miss about football is that it is not won with computer printouts but with passion. Cloran has been a fullback and a linebacker since he first suited up as a 7-year-old.

        “I've loved football since I started it way back when,” he said. “I love the competition. I love being part of a team.”

        Generally speaking, football has loved him back.

        “He always seemed to be pretty good,” said Dan Cloran, the player's uncle. “They keyed on him even as a kid.”

        Though his uncle is Moeller High School's director of alumni and development, Drew Cloran chose to follow his father's path to Madeira.

        Dan Cloran has spent most of this week explaining how Moeller had missed out on his nephew. Drew Cloran has spent most of the week working hard on humility.

        “My biggest thrill was that we all came together as a team,” he said.

        For one night, at least, Drew Cloran was a team all by himself.

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