Cleveland Football Team Has Confidence In Austin Herink

Senior Southpaw Looking For Great Things In Final Season For Blue Raiders

Monday, August 19, 2013 - by John Hunt

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Last year was one of those football seasons that members of the Cleveland Blue Raiders would just as soon forget.

They finished with a 5-5 record, which is not very good for a team with much higher standards.  Perhaps the biggest kicker to last year's misery was losing their final game to Rhea County and getting left out of the playoffs.

Every coach and player who has anything to do with Cleveland football is vowing to not let that happen again.

Ron Crawford is starting his second season as the Blue Raider head coach.

  He too has high expectations as he has a strong senior class numbering 18 and he has the majority of starters back, including nine on offense.

Austin Herink was the starting quarterback a year ago who looked great at times.  At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he has the size to be a force.  He's also a smart kid with a 3.9 grade point average, so he's certainly more of an asset than a liability when the Blue Raiders have the ball.

He's been to more than a dozen camps this summer and he's a better than average bet to be playing on the college level next fall.

"Our goal is to be better than last year, get back to the playoffs and win some important football games," the only child of Jeff and Donita Herink shared one day last week before practice began.

"We've had a great summer so far, but we have to get back to that level of play that Cleveland is known for.  We have most of our starters back on offense and I feel more confident than ever before.  I know that I can play at this level and I feel like a veteran now after what I went through last year.

"All of my friends are on the football team and we've been playing together for a while.  We've worked hard to get to this point and we really care about each other," he continued.

This young man started his football career as an energetic six-year-old and was a running back until the sixth grade.

"You know that every kid wants to be a quarterback.  I've really taken my role as the quarterback serious as my work ethic is one of my biggest assets.  I don't put the football down all year long and I'm a student of the game," Herink added.

He has a long list of colleges interested in his services, including Cincinnati, Furman, Samford, VMI and Youngstown State.  History is his favorite subject and he wants to one day go into business for himself selling insurance, but he's hoping that his career as a gridiron star will keep going for several more years.

"I know that football doesn't last forever, so I have to have a backup plan," he concluded.

Coach Crawford is just happy that he has another season with the strapping guy who just celebrated his 18th birthday this past Friday.

"From an experience standpoint, we ask him to do a lot, but he understands our offense and he allows us to do some good things on that side of the ball," Crawford said while supervising a weight room workout.

"Austin is a good teammate and the others have a lot of confidence in him.  His goal is to be number one and he's often harder on himself than we are.  He's competitive, coachable and dependable and that's the kind of guy you want at quarterback.

"He can throw the football, but he also has the ability to keep a play alive when the call doesn't materialize.  We'll run him some as he's big enough to protect himself," the coach continued.

"He understands our offense and he knows how to protect the ball.  He has all the ingredients of a great leader and we expect him to improve from last year.  I hope that he plays with a chip on his shoulder.

"We don't want to leave any doubts this year.  Our mental toughness has to get better, but I feel like we have a chance to win every game on our schedule.  Of course, we can't afford to beat ourselves.  But we're excited about the upcoming season as we're looking for great things from these young men," Crawford concluded.

The Blue Raiders looked good in their 20-minute jamboree matchup with Boyd-Buchanan on Friday night as the Blue Raiders prevailed, 14-0.

Herink's first pass fell incomplete, but he then completed his next four, including a touchdown play of 79 yards to fellow senior D.J. Jones.

Cleveland will be the first team to start the season as the Blue Raiders host McCallie at Benny Monroe Stadium on Thursday night with the opening kickoff set for 7:30.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


Lookouts' Daniel Palka Named Southern League Hitter Of The Week

 The Southern League has announced that Chattanooga Lookouts’ All-Star Daniel Palka has been named its Player of the Month for the month of June. The Lookouts outfielder’s month got off to a great start when he slugged two home runs in back-to-back games against the Birmingham Barons. Palka followed that up with another outstanding week where he hit .345 (10-for-29) with ... (click for more)

Lookouts Bounce Back Beating Wahoos Thursday, 7-3

Pensacola, Fl..  Chattanooga tagged the Blue Wahoos relievers to go on to win, 7-3, in front of 4,884 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Ryan Eades improved to 5-3 with six strong innings. He gave up just one run on four hits. He walked three and struck out six. Jake Reed worked the next two innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and two hit batters. He did strike out four. Mason ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Man Charged In Traffic Death Of Tunnel Hill Woman, 28

Authorities said a Signal Mountain man was driving when his vehicle struck and killed a woman walking along a road at Ringgold, Ga., on Thursday night. Tyler Alexander Lemley, 20, was charged with DUI. Other charges are pending. Kimberly Diane Dotson, 28, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., was walking southbound on the west edge of Sam Lewis Road when she was hit. Lemley was driving ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Woman Sues Over Treatment Of Disabled Daughter At Memphis Airport Security Checkpoint

A Chattanooga woman has filed suit, alleging that her disabled daughter was roughed up by airport police and Transportation Security Administration personnel at the Memphis Airport. Shirley Cohen said she was returning to Chattanooga after taking her 19-year-old daughter to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for treatment. The lawsuit filed in Memphis says the daughter ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (6)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This July

I can never remember a day in July when my garden, my lawn, my dogwood tree, and my ferns are all wilting for lack of rain. Right now we are more than eight inches under our average rainfall for the first six months and, on this wonderful weekend, those who love firecrackers are urged to keep a pail of water in case a spark could cause a fire. On the other hand, every July 4 th ... (click for more)