Playing a top heavy district, the Clarinda Cardinals are hoping a new head coach and offensive scheme will tip the scales in their favor.
Collin Bevins was hired in April to serve as the new head football coach of Clarinda. He replaces Roger Williams, who served as head coach of the Cardinals for the last two years after 30 years as an assistant coach including 18 years as the defense coordinator.
“I was super excited when (Clarinda Activities Director Josh) Porter reached out to me and I couldn’t turn it down. Growing up in Clarinda as a young kid, I watched my dad coach here and always wondered what it would be like to be on that field,” Bevins said.
Born in Clarinda, Bevins moved with his family to Chariton in 2001 and later to Creston. He played football at Creston and was a two-time state champion in wrestling for the Panthers.
Bevins went on to play football at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. A defensive lineman, Bevins played for the Bearcats from 2013-2016. He was a member of the 2015 and 2016 national championship teams for the Bearcats.
In 2015, Bevins was named Co-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the Associated Press Little All-American First team. During the season, he set school records with 15.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles.
Then, in his senior season, Bevins was selected as a first team All-American by four organizations including the Associated Press.
Despite stepping down as head coach, Williams remains with the program as an assistant coach. Also returning to the coaching staff are assistants Andrew Almelien, Jason Gordon and Jim Lindsay.
“Having Roger around is big for me. As a first-time head coach, his knowledge and history with Clarinda is huge. I bounce questions off of him every day. I am very thankful he decided to stick around,” Bevins said.
Last season, Clarinda posted an overall record of 3-6 and was 2-3 in Class 1A District 8 play. Van Meter went undefeated during the regular season to win the district championship, while Mount Ayr finished second in the district.
Bevins expects those two teams to battle again this season for top honors in the district. However, after that, he believes the conference is up for grabs.
“To finish in the top two or three would be awesome for the first year. Then, down the road, being in the conversation for a district title is where we want to be,” Bevins said.
The Cardinals have 51 players out for the football program this season. Clarinda held its annual preseason camp from Aug. 5-9 and then started official practices Monday, Aug. 12.
“Practice has gone well. The older guys are picking things up. Defensively, nothing has changed. Offensively, we have had our good days and bad days, but overall I’m pleased with the way they’ve picked up everything,” Bevins said.
Clarinda officially unveiled its new offensive scheme during the Gatorade Scrimmage held Friday, Aug. 23, at Cardinal Field. Clarinda will be looking to utilize a pistol formation with several alignment variations this season.
“We want to spread the ball out and get everybody involved as much as we can. But priority number one will be to run the ball as always,” Bevins said.
Directing the pistol formation will be Michael Shull who returns as quarterback. Parker Rock also played quarterback for the Cardinals last season and provides valuable depth at the position.
At the skill positions, Connor Brown returns at running back after suffering a broken collar bone a year ago. The receiving corps will be anchored by Kory Rogers and Nathan Lindsay.
Bevins said the Cardinals also have several experienced players returning up front. Those linemen include Dalton Brown, Jakob Childs, Logan Green, Crew Howard, Ethan Jones and Jarod McGregor.
Many of those same players will also anchor the defensive line for Clarinda. Meanwhile, Lindsay led the Cardinals in tackles as a linebacker. Cole Ridnour and Rock are also returning at linebacker, while Rogers will resume his duties as a defensive back.
“We have a lot of experience running around on the field,” Bevins said. “We have 15 seniors on the team and having them back is important. They have shown high energy and, if they remain enthusiastic like they have been in practice, they can bring the younger kids along with them. They have been used to winning since they were little kids in the youth program. If we can get them hungry again, we hope to turn those one to three point losses into seven or 10 point wins.”