6:00: Morning News

Capital’s Clark relishing chance to make impact in North-South Football Classic

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Kalai Clark is well aware all-star games are geared toward offensive production regardless of the sport.

If anything, that only adds to the excitement level of the 6-foot-1, 286-pound Capital defensive lineman, who will suit up for the South in Saturday’s North-South Football Classic at South Charleston High School.

“That’s the good thing about it, because I can open up a lot of eyes and I’m trying to live in their backfield,” Clark said. “I really want to hit that Connor Neal guy.”

Neal, the 2018 Kennedy Award winner from Fairmont Senior, will play quarterback for the North. He’s one of many high-level offensive talents who will suit up Saturday at SCHS when the South tries to snap a three-game losing streak in the series.

Clark, who anchored the Cougars’ defensive line and also served as a reliable ball-carrier in short-yardage situations, has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

His stature, physicality and quickness make Clark a strong candidate for double teams, which he overcame during his senior season to finish with 47 solo tackles and 24.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

While practicing this week at West Virginia State University to prepare for Saturday’s game, Clark said he was excited to have a chance to represent Capital one final time.

“It’s really cool and it’s kind of different because you’re playing with people from Class A, Class AA and Class AAA,” Clark said. “Some people you played against are now your teammates. It’s kind of weird, but it’s also fun at the same time.”

Clark also has a familiar roommate and teammate this week in Capital running back/defensive back Quisean Gray. The two are hoping to make a major impact for the Cardinals on Saturday, and Clark believes Gray will have more than his fair share of opportunities.

“They have him playing everything — special teams, running back and safety — so he doesn’t get a break,” Clark said. “It’s fun though and being my roomate, we talk every day.”

Clark, who also rushed for 11 TDs last season, earned Class AAA all-state first-team honors along the defensive line after shedding more than 50 pounds in the offseason.

He’ll soon realize his goal of playing college football, though it’ll be nowhere near home. Clark is heading to Antelope Valley Community College (Calif.), where he hopes to follow in the footsteps of 2016 Capital graduate Turan Rush, also a standout d-lineman in his days as a Cougar.

“My coach put in a word for me and told me that’s a pretty good school,” Clark said of how he discovered Antelope Valley. “Turan Rush went there and now he’s playing at Eastern Michigan, so I hope I get a chance to show my talent.”

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