CLEARFIELD — Jeff Bingham paid his dues as an assistant coach for more than two decades. Finally, he has the chance to run his own program.
Bingham is now in charge of Clearfield's football program as the head coach, and hopes to help rebuild the Falcons. Clearfield hasn't had a winning season since 2004.
"It's a good time, really, in my life," Bingham said. "My kids are grown, so there's less responsibility at home as far as kids go. My wife has always been real supportive. She's a great gal. I'm a lucky guy."
Clearfield is hoping Bingham can bring some luck to its football program.
The Falcons have been hurt the last two years by the opening of Syracuse High and losing players to the new school. Clearfield's talent and depth levels haven't been what they once were, but spirits are up and the Falcons are optimistic they can contend for a state playoff berth.
"We're coming to win," said Clearfield running back/safety Kammeron Smart. "It's our senior year and we want to bring Clearfield back to its past glory."
It's not out of the question. The Falcons certainly have the ability to at least contend for a state playoff berth.
The biggest piece in place for Clearfield is quarterback Kolton Young. The senior is a returning starter for the Falcons, and he even started a few games under center as a sophomore. He's Region 1's most experienced quarterback, and Bingham said Young's such a good athlete, he'll be playing some outside linebacker for the Falcons.
"He's a big kid with a strong arm," Bingham said. "He's a tough kid."
Young said he hopes his experience as a starter will pay off.
"I got the speed (of varsity ball) down and I feel pretty comfortable," he said.
Tight end Jace Woodrow and receiver Ryker Schirner may be Young's favorite targets this season, and he'll have quality running backs to work with in Smart and Austin Ford. Bingham said Ford is probably Clearfield's best athlete. Senior Brennon Valdez will anchor the team's offensive and defensive lines.
The Falcons have a strong junior class that's expected to get a lot of playing time this season. Juniors Stephen Laufiso and Jarron Bolingbroke will join Valdez in the trenches, while Braxton Patterson and Jarred Walsh should be offensive threats and defensive contributors.
"We've got a lot of speed," Young said. "We could be dangerous. We'll see."
Bingham said having a strong junior class makes a huge difference for a program. Clearfield fans can probably count on seeing a lot of juniors playing this season.
"When you have a solid junior class, it makes everything better," Bingham said. "It makes it more competitive all around. It pushes the seniors, gives them a better look in scrimmages. That junior class will push our seniors and make us better as a team."
Bingham will run the team's offense, while Trevor Thomas is Clearfield's defensive coordinator.
Bingham, during a 26-year coaching career that took him to Layton High, his alma mater Ben Lomond and North Ogden Junior High, has coached just about every position possible. Now that he's got his chance to be a head coach, he's hoping to help the Falcons both on and off the field.
"I enjoy working with kids," Bingham said. "I like to see kids succeed, I like to see them improve. That's what it's about. If we can do that, we'll be successful no matter what our record is."
Clearfield Falcons at a glance
Coach: Jeff Bingham is a first-year head coach for the Falcons. He is a longtime assistant coach, with his last 19 years of coaching coming at Layton High.
Key Players: Senior quarterback Kolton Young is a returning starter, and even played a few games as a sophomore. He is the team's leader. The Falcons have quality running backs in Austin Ford, Kammeron Smart, Braxton Patterson and Jarred Walsh. Tight end Jace Woodrow and Ryker Schirner will be Young's top targets. Brennon Valdez, Stephen Laufiso and Jarron Bolingbroke are the team's top linemen.
Strengths: Clearfield has the skill players to compete with anyone in Region 1. Young has a strong arm, and the running backs have some speed. Some changes on defense should help the Falcons play better as a unit.
Concerns: The biggest question mark is how the team will fare in the trenches. Valdez, Laufiso and Bolingbroke will be fine, but the players that join them will have some pressure on them. Bingham would also like to see more dedication out of some of the team's players.
Last year: 3-7, did not qualify for state playoffs
Predicted Region 1 finish: Eighth
Postseason possibilities: The Falcons may be a year away from being a contender in Region 1. But with a seasoned quarterback like Young, and being in such a balanced league as Region 1, Clearfield can contend for a state playoff berth this season.
Aug. 21 — at Taylorsville, 7 p.m.
Aug. 28 — DAVIS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 — at Fremont, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 — ROY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 — at Lehi, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 — at Weber, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 — at Layton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 — NORTHRIDGE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 — at Viewmont, 7 p.m.