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  • Tony Fiorello

Clark a Rising Star for Crusaders

Photo by Andrew Miller

The Canisius Crusaders were ahead at half but came up just short falling 47-36 to Cathedral Prep Saturday. Senior QB Vincent Zimmerman was 12/15 for 152 yards and two TDs. Freshman Elijah Kimble had a strong debut running for 121 yards and a score. Junior extraordinaire Jayhden Clark, who was limited to 3 catches for 18 yards and a TD.

The Crusaders have been retooling a bit under coach Kraig Kurzanski, but the process of becoming a better football team should be sped up a bit in 2023.

Clark, who led the Crusaders in catches, yards, touchdowns, tackles, fumble recoveries and interceptions as a sophomore wide receiver and safety last year, is cause for a lot of excitement according to Kurzanski.

“Jayhden loves playing both ways and he's a physical kid. I knew he was going to be special when I first met him before last season,” Kurzanski said. “He does everything well and he always practices hard – he cares about trying to do his best all the time.”

Clark’s versatility has raised eyebrows around Western New York, and Kurzanski knows that he’d be a fool not to take advantage of his talents.

“He plays wide receiver and safety for us, but he can play in the slot and on the outside and he can also play cornerback too,” Kurzanski said. “I think he's an underrated defender and a terrific safety. But he’s also a really good wide receiver – he's a very talented young guy, that’s for sure.

“We will certainly try to get him the ball a little bit more this year because he’s a top talent in New York State. Those numbers are against good opponents too, so we know he’s for real.”

On top of his talent, Clark is also a leader and someone who his teammates gravitate to.

“Jayhden’s one of the hardest working kids I've coached in regard to practice, preparation and taking care of his schoolwork,” Kurzanski said. “He's such a talented kid and he’s one of the most competitive kids I've coached in 35 years.

“As a person he's a good friend, a good teammate and he's a great leader. He’s one of our captains and is a lead-by-example type and a very likable guy. I know we throw the word ‘love’ around a lot in society nowadays, but his teammates really do love being around him. In practice, he’ll coach up a young kid and he competes hard against the seniors every day.”

According to Kurzanski, Clark is starting to draw interest from multiple college programs. He has an offer from the University at Buffalo and has landed on the radar of schools like Syracuse, Rutgers and Virginia Tech. Villanova and Bucknell have also come knocking on his door.

Yet Clark knows he has another two years to go before he graduates from high school, and Kurzanski also acknowledges that kids like Clark don’t grow on trees.

“He’s a unique kid and we’re very blessed to have him here,” Kurzanski said. “I think the sky's the limit for him.”

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