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Gwinnett Grads: Backing it up

From the time he first played football, Asher Clark has always been the one in control, the quarterback.

It's also the spot the Peachtree Ridge grad expected to play at Air Force and early in the season it appeared nothing would change. But the Falcons needed the true freshman in the backfield, shifting him to a position he had never played before.

The experiment has been a huge success.

Clark has become a bigger part of 8-2 Air Force's offense throughout the season, culminating in a huge game last Saturday against Colorado State. The 5-foot-8, 185-pounder carried 16 times for 136 yards, scoring on touchdown runs of 45 and 41 yards.

"It felt great," Clark said of the game. "I couldn't have done it without my team. It's definitely a team effort when a big play breaks out."

Clark is filling a backfield void left by another Gwinnett grad, former Wesleyan star Chad Hall. Hall did much more for the Falcons in multiple positions and on kickoff returns, but Clark is doing more than expected as a true freshman.

And most of his playing time has been at a new position.

"My initial expectations were just to be able to play as a freshman," Clark said. "I never expected to be starting by the middle of the season."

Clark said his coaches have made the transition to running back much easier, allowing him to adjust more quickly than he expected. Blocking was tough to get down - he didn't do a lot of that at quarterback, obviously - but it's getting better.

It helps when he runs the ball so well - in eight games, he has 92 carries for 440 yards and four TDs.

"I really don't know (if I'm at running back for good)," Clark said. "I'm trying to focus on running back right now. It's up to coach. Whatever he wants me to do, I'll do."

A position switch wasn't the only adjustment for Clark this fall.

He also started Air Force's demanding curriculum, which hasn't been a problem for a student who had a 3.9 GPA in high school. He's even faring well learning Chinese, a class he was placed in because he tested so well.

Then there's the military life, the biggest change for any incoming freshman at an academy.

"It was a big adjustment," Clark said. "You have to get used to having that much order in your life. Somebody's always telling you where to go, what to do."

CROSS COUNTRY

Kreutzer sisters headed to nationals

Sisters Allison and Kara Kreutzer, both Providence Christian grads, have qualified for the upcoming NCAA Division II National Cross Country Championships.

Allison, a senior at Clayton State, won the NCAA Southeast Regional individual championship with a time of 22 minutes, 24 seconds, a full minute ahead of the second-place finisher on the 6K course. Now 7-for-7 in individual meet victories this season, she is seeking to become Clayton State's first three-time All-American at NCAAs, scheduled for Nov. 22 at Slippery Rock (Pa.).

Kara, a junior at Augusta State, helped her team to its first ever NCAA berth by placing 20th overall at the Southeast Regional with a time of 25:02.

SOCCER

Gamecock trio get conference honors

South Carolina teammates and Gwinnett grads Sam Arthur, Blake Brettschneider and Jimmy Maurer were honored on the All-Conference USA men's soccer teams.

Arthur, a Greater Atlanta Christian grad, and Brettschneider, a Parkview grad, made the first team and Maurer, a St. Pius grad who lives in Lawrenceville, was on the second team.

Arthur led the league in goals (11) and points (49), Brettschneider had five goals (three in league play) and Maurer had a 0.77 goals-against average with eight shutouts.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.

SideBar: IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS

A quick look at where to watch former Gwinnett standouts in today's college football action:

Noon - Duke at Clemson, WUPA

For Duke, Buford's Ryan Wood (No. 82) plays wide receiver and Buford's Matt Pridemore (No. 10) plays wide receiver. For Clemson, Parkview's Michael Palmer (No. 86) plays tight end and Brookwood's Dawson Zimmerman (No. 96) is a punter.

Noon - Notre Dame at Navy, CBS

For Navy, Parkview's Travis Sudderth (No. 55) plays linebacker and Norcross' Wyatt Middleton (No. 8) plays defensive back.

Noon - Ohio Sate at Illinois, ESPN

For Ohio State, Peachtree Ridge's Cameron Heyward (No. 97) plays defensive line.

Noon - Princeton at Yale, Versus

For Princeton, GAC's Meko McCray (No. 29) plays defensive back.

12:30 p.m. - Georgia at Auburn, WATL

For Georgia, GAC's Brannan Southerland (No. 36) plays fullback, Norcross' Fred Munzenmaier (No. 48) plays fullback, GAC's Caleb King (No. 4) plays running back, Brookwood's Rennie Curran (No. 35) plays linebacker, GAC's Christian Robinson (No. 45) plays linebacker and Peachtree Ridge's Drew Butler (No. 13) is a punter. For Auburn, Parkview's Brad Lester (No. 1) plays running back, South's Rod Smith (No. 80) plays wide receiver and Brookwood's Charles Olatunji (No. 21) plays wide receiver.

1 p.m. - Middle Tennessee State at Western Kentucky, CSS

For MTSU, Grayson's Denzell Guerra (No. 31) is a safety. For Western Kentucky, Meadowcreek's Mychal Patterson (No. 74) plays offensive line and Collins Hill's Bo Adebayo (No. 93) plays defensive line.

3 p.m. - Georgia Southern at Furman, SportSouth

For Georgia Southern, Brookwood's Chris Covington (No. 28) plays defensive back, GAC's Lee Chapple (No. 14) plays quarterback, GAC's Josh Barker (No. 76) plays offensive line, Buford's Garryon Taylor (No. 83) plays wide receiver, Norcross' Dion Dubose (No. 54) plays linebacker, Parkview's Matt Rucker (No. 56) plays linebacker, Grayson's Stephen Bolt (No. 75) plays offensive line and Central Gwinnett's Josh Aiken-Phillips (No. 97) plays defensive line. For Furman, Buford's Masharn Austin (No. 18) plays cornerback, Buford's Mark Standridge (No. 30) plays cornerback, Buford's David Hendrix (No. 14) plays wide receiver, Parkview's Pete Sanders (No. 96) plays fullback and Norcross' Trent Hawk (No. 17) is a punter.

3:30 p.m. - Minnesota at Wisconsin, ESPN

For Minnesota, Brookwood's David Pittman (No. 9) plays quarterback.

3:30 p.m. - South Carolina at Florida, CBS

For South Carolina, North's Jared Cook (No. 84) plays tight end, Buford's Yvan Banag (No. 30) plays fullback and Brookwood's Kenny Miles (No. 31) plays running back. For Florida, Buford's Omar Hunter (No. 99) plays defensive line and Buford's T.J. Pridemore (No. 45) plays fullback.

4:30 p.m. - Central Florida at Marshall, CSS

For Central Florida, Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Davis (No. 7) plays running back, Peachtree Ridge's Sidney Haynes (No. 80) plays wide receiver and North Gwinnett's Robert Pritchard (No. 97) plays defensive end.

7 p.m. - USC at Stanford, Versus

For USC, Norcross' Brice Butler (No. 83) plays wide receiver.

7:45 p.m. - Mississippi State at Alabama, ESPN

For Alabama, Grayson's Lorenzo Washington (No. 97) plays defensive line, Norcross' Darius Hanks (No. 15) plays wide receiver and Norcross' Sam Snider (No. 45) plays wide receiver and punter.

8 p.m. - Vanderbilt at Kentucky, ESPN2

For Vanderbilt, Duluth's Kennard Reeves (No. 28) plays running back, Parkview's Greg Billinger (No. 56) plays defensive line, Collins Hill's T.J. Greenstone (No. 74) plays defensive line and Grayson's Tristan Strong (No. 24) plays linebacker. For Kentucky, North's E.J. Adams (No. 17) plays wide receiver and North's Ross Bogue (No. 86) plays tight end.