Good luck finding someone who’s smiling bigger than Derby quarterback Grant Adler.
On top of almost 2,200 rushing yards returning in the backfield, the senior signal-caller will have no shortage of weapons in his receiving corps.
Between seniors Aaron Larson, Cavion Walker and Jacob Karsak, along with junior Davin Simms, just over 1,000 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns are back this fall.
The concoction of talent is something all four receivers have embraced, understanding that they all bring something different to the table. Add in Adler’s ability to make nearly every throw and that he has played alongside three of them since Derby Junior Football and the camaraderie is off the charts.
“We all have the mindset that we can be big-time playmakers,” Karsak said. “We understand that there are certain plays designed for certain people, but we’re going to go hard no matter what so that we can get that person open.”
Perhaps no one is more ready to get back on the field than Karsak. Starting at tight end/wide receiver, he saw his time in last year’s state championship game end on the opening kickoff with a broken leg.
After a missed basketball season and rigorous rehab over the last eight months, the senior is eager to start the season.
“I don’t want to take this season for granted,” Karsak said. “I realized how much I missed the weight room as I wasn’t able to lift for three or four months. Waking up for zero hour might suck in the moment, but when you have it taken away from you, it’s tough.”
Praised for his blocking, Karsak has also grown into his 6-foot-3 frame and become one of Derby’s numerous mismatches down field.
Physically and schematically, Clark said Walker has soared with 20-25 pounds added to his playing weight and added to his athleticism. The now-senior also feels like he’s got plenty more to show after his 11 catches last fall.
The senior has seen offers pour in from the JUCO and D-II ranks, but additional offers are likely thanks in part to Adler’s versatility at quarterback.
“I know because of my height I can be a deep threat,” Walker said. “I’ve improved my speed, so I know I can also do more with the ball and make a move and go.”
Simms lit up the scoreboard as a sophomore thanks to elite speed and his ability to create plays in space. His seven touchdowns last year were third behind only Hunter Igo (30) and Tre Washington (24).
One year after his first season playing wide receiver, he’s ready to build upon a blossoming career. The junior has garnered interest from larger schools with more likely to jump in over the next 12 months.
“I want to be a receiver that can run any route at top speed,” Simms said. “I want to be able to do anything, whether it’s getting yards trucking somebody or being elusive too.”
Larson will become a three-year starter for Clark and has been a steady presence at wide receiver. Over the last two years, he has tallied 162 yards receiving with four scores.
With one year left, the senior said this group is out to prove just how dangerous it can become.
“Any play, anything can happen,” Larson said. “When one of us gets the ball, chances are something special is going to happen.”