All-star Rams rookie turning heads

Langley's Kyle Clarot one of three Rams named BC Junior Football Conference all-stars

Most kids want the ball, the glory that comes with scoring a touchdown for their team while starring on the offensive side of the ball.

Kyle Clarot wanted the ball too, of course, but he preferred to be on the defensive side of the field, getting his hands on the ball through a big interception for the defence.

The athletic Clarot excelled on both sides graduating through the ranks of Langley Minor Football, settling on the defensive side.

“I just always thought it was fun (to play defence),” Clarot explained.

But the 19-year-old is more than just having fun — he is excelling in his rookie season with the Langley Rams.

Clarot is on the short-list for the BC Junior Football Conference’s rookie of the year award.

Heading into this past weekend’s regular season finale — a 48-16 loss to the VI Raiders, which he sat out as the game had no impact on the standings — Clarot led the Rams with 82 defensive points. He wound up finishing behind linebacker Isaiah Stewart for the team lead and behind Valley Huskers’ Danny Harris for the rookie lead.

Clarot was also voted a defensive all-star, the lone member from the Rams defensive side of the ball to earn that honour. On offence, running back Nathan Lund and receiver Khalik Johnson were also selected all-stars.

Johnson — who was also an all-star in 2016 — was first in the league with 52 catches and second in yards with 782. He was also second with six touchdown catches.

Lund was second in the league with a 7.7 yards per average carry and fourth in yards with 461. He finished with four rushing touchdowns.

Clarot had 26 tackles (22 of which were solo), another eight special teams tackles, five passes batted down and two interceptions, one of which he returned 106 yards for the touchdown — the longest in Rams history and third longest in the 70-year history of the BCFC.

“From day one, Kyle has shown his presence on the football field and his ability to make plays,” said Rams coach Jeff Alamolhoda, who began the season as defensive co-ordinator before taking over as interim head coach last month.

“And as his season progressed, he has become a leader for our defence.”

When the Rams recruited Clarot from the Langley Stampeders midget football team, they knew he could be a difference maker.

“His intangibles surprised us — his work ethic, his toughness, his physicality — and he imposed those right away,” Alamolhoda said.

The Rams’ defensive backs coach, Jordan Linnen is no stranger to success. After starring for the Rams during his playing days, he went on to a great career with the University of Manitoba and after university, was on the practice roster for the BC Lions.

Linnen told Alamolhoda that Clarot “was way better than him” when he was a BCFC rookie, Alamolhoda shared.

Alamolhoda recalled a defensive meeting earlier this season, where the coaching staff asked each player why they played the game.

“Kyle’s reason stood out a little bit, it was different,” Alamolhoda explained.

“He said the game of football gave him a rush and it was exciting and exhilarating for him for him.

“And he plays like that, with that energy and that effort.”

Clarot played soccer, basketball and ball hockey as well, growing up, but loved the physicality of football.

When the Rams recruited Clarot, they envisioned him specifically for the halfback position.

He had primarily played corner before that.

“His length, his speed, his nose for the football — he fit our system into that half spot quite well,” Alamolhoda added.

“We knew after the first week that someone had to take (that starting spot) from him.”

And it is not just the head coach who has taken notice of Clarot’s strong debut as university coaches have started contacting the D.W. Poppy alum.

“He is a prototypical Canadian defensive back,” Alamolhoda said.

“If he continues to build on his off-season training and development as an athlete … he has the ability in my opinion to play at any level in Canada.”

For his part, Clarot would love to play professionally down the road. He knows that he needs to work on his strength — he is six-foot-two and 165 pounds — but what he may lack in that department, he more than makes up for with his cerebral understanding on the field.

“For Kyle, the sky is the limit,” Alamolhoda said.


sports@langleytimes.com

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