Eagles’ backfield a mix of experience, youth

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Moennig steps in at QB; O’Hara, Clayton anchor backfield

The Pierce City football team will rely on a mixture of experience and youth this season, welcoming a new man under center supported by a backfield with some know-how.

Brad Hocker, Pierce City coach, said senior Payton Moennig is likely to start at quarterback for the Eagles. The defensive back in 2020 has some JV quarterback experience, but he will be new to the starting varsity role on offense.

“We are working with him in camp on his footwork and decision-making,” Hocker said. “We are looking for big things from him. He also has a way of getting up the field in the run game, so he’s a dual threat there.”

Moennig last season rushed for 20 yards on 3 carries, and he caught 3 passes for 35 yards.

While his contribution this year will take a different shape, the Eagles will rely on one of its best runners in 2020, incoming junior Clayten O’Hara, to again make waves offensively. As a sophomore, O’Hara rushed for 711 yards on 110 attempts and caught 4 passes for 36 yards. He also played a little at quarterback, completing 15 of 28 passes for 186 yards. He scored 14 total touchdowns.

“Clayten was a Second Team All-Conference player last season and was a good player for us,” Hocker said. “He has great vision and is our playmaker. We’re looking for him to be this year’s home run hitter for us.

“We toyed around with him at quarterback, but as coaches we found tailback is the best position for him. He’s tough to tackle as an outside or inside runner, and he has the best vision of anyone on our team.”

Helping in the backfield at times will be Zane Clayton, also a junior and All-Conference selection, who had 61 yards on 7 carries and 5 catches for 38 yards last season.

“We’ll look at Zane to play fullback for us,” Hocker said. “He’s a hard-nosed kid with good vision and speed. He’ll be at fullback in our two-back formations, or he’ll be out on the edge running pass routes.”

Hocker said as in years past, he aims for his Eagles to spread out the offense and keep his players engaged.

“Doing that keeps kids healthy, and it gets more kids interested in offense when we spread the ball around a bit,” he said. “We will put kids in positions to utilize their skills, and we’ll look for them at times to make plays on their own.

“It’s not every year you can do that, but we’ve been blessed the past six or seven years to have the skills to spread the ball around.”

Having a pair of juniors so active in the offense is also breeding some excitement in Pierce City.

“There’s excitement for our team every year in different ways,” Hocker said. “Fall is a pretty special time in Pierce city. We are a football town and get a lot of support. The kids enjoy showing up to practice every day, going out and working hard to make everybody proud.

“We’ve got some youth and not as much experience as the past, so right now at camp, we are dong a lot of installing and eliminating confusion to get our aggressiveness up.”

Editor’s note: This story is part of a weekly series looking at each position group within the Pierce City football team.

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