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In the trenches: Football, school & life

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In the trenches: Football, school & life

Manteca High two-way lineman Daniel Clemens shows off the marks on his helmet – battle scars from the wars he fights in the trenches every Friday night.


POSTED November 1, 2012 12:20 a.m.

Daniel Clemens plays hard.

All it takes to see how hard the two-way senior lineman goes every down is to look at where he is just an hour before taking the practice field at Manteca High – getting his ankle and his hand taped up so that he can hit the field and do the job that his teammates expect him to do.

You’ll hear no complaints. Even though there might be pain there won’t be any gripes or any grimaces from the offensive guard and defensive tackle that says the biggest reason he slaves away in the trenches is because its where all of the contact occurs.

And even though you won’t hear Clemens brag about how he’s an iron man, it’s the only style of football he’s ever known – dating back to his days as a Manteca Charger and Lathrop Spartan.

Scoring touchdowns and getting all of the glory, he said, probably has its perks. But so does laying the perfect block to spring that touchdown run or stuffing an opposing back that never saw him coming.

The Bulletin caught up with Clemens earlier in the week to talk about the ins-and-outs of balancing school and football, what he’d eat for breakfast everyday if he had his druthers and what it’s like to play for a program with so much tradition:

What is it that motivates you to step out onto the field?

“I love the contact. Whenever I’m having a bad day it’s the perfect stress reliever. I love this sport and you have a have a passion to play it, and I look forward to coming out here and working hard with my teammates to get better.”

What do you enjoy about being a part of a program – playing for a school – that has so much tradition?

“I love the sense of brotherhood that we have as a team – that we do things together as a family. I think that really carries over. And it’s an honor to put on that uniform for Manteca High. You can definitely feel that tradition when you walk out onto the field on a Friday night. It’s one of those things that if you’ve never experienced it you can’t really explain it. But that feeling is there.”

Favorite breakfast food?

“Bacon. By far. It’s probably the greatest food in the world.”

How do you balance a life as a normal high school student and a football player?

“It’s difficult sometimes. In the summer we have our workouts and we have our days off when we can do whatever, but when football time is there it’s there. My days basically go school, practice, and homework. I don’t really have a whole lot of time to hang out during the season. You have to be dedicated in order to make that schedule work.”

What do you think are some misconceptions about the position of linemen?

“I’m sure that it takes skill to be a receiver, but as a lineman you have to be tough – you can’t go out there and get little baby injuries and sit out for a week. And I’m sure that receivers have a lot to remember when it comes to routes and things like that, but our schemes on run blocks require us to be really quick thinkers on our feet and be able to adjust – have those fast reflexes that a lot of people don’t realize are a part of the position.”

Idea of a perfect day?

“Sleep in. Hang out with my friends. Play a little bit of hockey and then play a football game against Oakdale and beat them. I think that would be perfect.”

What is running through your mind when you walk out of the field house on a Friday night?

“I can’t explain it. You understand it when you actually do it. It doesn’t matter what team it is that you’re playing, you always get those feelings as you start walking towards the field and the game that you’ve been planning for is finally coming together.”

Last movie you watched?

“Paranormal Activity 3. It was pretty scary and funny at the same time because the people I watched it got so scared, and that always makes it fun.”

How does the brotherhood among players strengthen the bond among players and help with your ability to trust the man next to you?

“Whatever is going on in somebody’s life, they’re not afraid to tell and we’re ready to help them out and support them any way that we possibly can in what they’re going through. We’ve had some guys that are going through things this year, and we’re there for them. It’s a family among us, and you can see that.”

Favorite subject in school?

“Math. For whatever reason I just click with it – it’s one of those things that I’ve always been able to do.”

What’s the difference between a regular Valley Oak League game and a playoff game in terms of intensity and preparation?

“In a playoff game you know that if you lose you go home – that’s it and your entire season is over. The atmosphere is different. If we win on Friday this will more than likely be the third year in a row that I’ll be part of Manteca’s varsity team in the playoffs, and I want to do everything to help us win those games. Everybody already gives 100 percent when they’re out there on that field, but they go harder when it’s a playoff game.”

Plans for after high school? And do you think you’ll look favorably upon the years that you spent as a Manteca High Buffalo?

“Join the Coast Guard. And I’ll always remember this place no matter what. No matter who we lose to or who we beat, I’ll remember my teammates and my friends and the times that we had – guaranteed.”

Favorite actor?

“Adam Sandler. He’s hilarious.”

Anybody that has supported you throughout your playing days?

“My grandfather Chuck Carpenter. He’s supported me and never missed any of the games that I’ve played in during the 10 years that I’ve been playing football. That really means a lot to me.”

How do you keep yourself motivated – especially this late in the season after spending so much time working to get to this point?

“Just knowing that I’m going to get to go out there on Friday and hit everybody. It all starts with working to get better every single day, and because of that I’m looking forward to playing my part and being a member of this team out on the field this Friday.”

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