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FB: New plan of attack

Ernst moved to receiver to bolster Clippers’ passing game

(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
The Amboy Clippers are looking to mix up the offense this season by moving Jordan Ernst from tight end to receiver. The hope is that his size and speed will create match up issues for opponents.

Amboy has been the area's high school version of Tailback U for the past decade or so, with a bevy of speedy backs willing and able to carry the offensive load.

This season, the Clippers will be sporting a different offensive look. There isn't the workhorse back around as there has been in the past, but the possibility is still there for offensive fireworks.

Jordan Ernst, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, is moving from tight end to wide receiver this season to help bolster the Amboy passing game. He caught six passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns last season, and also helped clear the path for graduated tailbacks Spencer Johnson and Cooper Nelson.

"Last year at tight end, I got to help out blocking and was a big part of the running game," Ernst said. "I caught some passes, and they saw I had some ability, so now they're giving me a shot at wide receiver."

"Our goal is try to get him the ball out there, let him run with it and see what he can get," Amboy coach Gary Jones said. "He's a pretty good-sized kid, and he'll go up and get the ball."

Ernst's size and speed can create some favorable matchups on the outside the offense can exploit. The benefit will be two-fold: a downfield threat to make life miserable for small defensive backs, and to create space to benefit the running game that will still be the staple of the offense.

"I think it's going to be a good thing, because I can use my power and kind of body 'em up and get off the line quick," Ernst said. "I've also got enough speed to get past 'em and use that, too. I think it will work out pretty well."

Ernst is also moving on defense, going from defensive end to outside linebacker – again, to take advantage of his agility and free him up from tangling with offensive tackles.

"That's what I was hoping for," Ernst said. "I want to use my speed. I think I've got a pretty good instinct for the ball, so hopefully I can use my speed and power to plug up some holes and make some plays."

Jones envisions Ernst as a defender versatile enough to fill different roles and wreak havoc on offenses.

"He can go out and cover a receiver, but we can bring him inside and play some games," Jones said. "He's kind of like 'The Predator' [Clay Matthews] from the Packers."

Amboy is coming off a 9-3 season, and was hit hard by graduation, but Ernst doesn't expect the team to skip a beat in 2013. He was among a large of group of players that lifted weights 6 days a week all summer, missing only Sunday, and is strong and confident heading into this season.

"You've got kids waiting out here hours at a time just to get in that weight room," Ernst said. "Everyone just wants to get in there and get better. Everyone's doing the best they can to bulk up and get bigger, better and faster. That's all we want to do is get better at football. That's our whole goal."

• The Clippers have qualified for the playoffs in 11 of the past 13 seasons, including quarterfinal appearances in 2006, 2007 and 2012. They finished 9-3 each of those seasons.

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