s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting 99 cents per month and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting 99 cents per month and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

Marcus Poe is a star for Cloverdale in both basketball and football. Here’s a look at his stats in both sports:

FOOTBALL

2015 season totals (5 games)

16 receptions, 492 yards, seven touchdowns

Notable: Poe, who plays wide receiver and defensive end, also leads the team in tackles for loss (eight).

BASKETBALL 2014 season averages

15.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.9 blocks

Notable: Poe, a 6-foot-6 center, also led the team in field-goal percentage at 59 percent.

DUAL THREAT


CLOVERDALE — Certain things were all but set in stone for the Cloverdale football team as it entered the 2015 season. Dynamic running back Luke Bernardi would gobble up most of the yardage, returning All-NCL I lineman Travis Kitowski would be the cornerstone of the front wall and the Eagles would be in the thick of a tough league race.

Cloverdale had an X factor, though: a kid who had played only two seasons of organized football, one in eighth grade and another on the JV level as a sophomore, and hadn’t done a lot of magical things on the field.

And yet coach Chad Prieskorn and his staff had reason to expect big things from senior Marcus Poe. After all, the kid is nearly 6-foot-6. He’s fast. He’s agile. He has good hands. He’s willing to learn. And he likes to hit.

“You don’t get guys like that at the D5 level in Cloverdale,” Prieskorn said. “All the coaches were drooling over him as soon as we saw him come out.”

Sure enough, Poe has been cutting a wide swath through small-school football this fall. He has 16 catches for 492 yards and seven touchdowns through the 4-1 Eagles’ first five games, numbers that don’t accurately reflect his impact.

“This would be a typically good offensive team in the I(-formation) offense we like to run,” Prieskorn said. “With Marcus, it takes us to another level. I mean, it’s a whole other dimension that nobody can deal with.”

It has been a shocking varsity debut for Poe, who is better known as the star of the Cloverdale basketball team. He and hoops teammate John McMillan, who has since graduated, were NCL I co-MVPs last year. Poe is an active center who likes to score around the rim.

On the gridiron, it has taken him much longer to figure out exactly what he is. Poe always liked football growing up in east Concord, but he wasn’t nearly as imposing then and his parents never wanted him to play. Finally, in eighth grade, he begged his mom until she consented. But when his coach stuck him at center, the experience was sort of a disaster.

“I was really skinny for that position,” Poe said.

He didn’t give up on the sport, though. And when the family moved to Cloverdale before his sophomore year, Poe, who had experienced a major growth spurt as a freshman, went out for the junior varsity team. Prieskorn was coaching JVs then, and he remembers a willing worker with vast potential but little instinct for the game. They tried Poe at wide receiver, at defensive end, at fullback, even at offensive tackle.

He liked the game — once he got used to the hitting — but frequently found himself frustrated.

“I didn’t see that much success,” Poe said. “I would get mad if I didn’t get the ball. I was tall. I was taller than everybody else and I didn’t understand why they weren’t passing it to me. But now I understand. You need to run to gain yards.”

Any momentum Poe might have gathered that year soon came to a crashing halt. As a sophomore, he saw his grades plummet during the fall and was academically ineligible for basketball in the winter. He was crushed. The next year, Poe was determined to bring up his GPA. That meant giving up football as a junior.

Marcus Poe is a star for Cloverdale in both basketball and football. Here’s a look at his stats in both sports:

FOOTBALL

2015 season totals (5 games)

16 receptions, 492 yards, seven touchdowns

Notable: Poe, who plays wide receiver and defensive end, also leads the team in tackles for loss (eight).

BASKETBALL 2014 season averages

15.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.9 blocks

Notable: Poe, a 6-foot-6 center, also led the team in field-goal percentage at 59 percent.

DUAL THREAT

Thus, it was a virtually untapped player who rejoined the football team this summer. And yet the people who know Poe best haven’t been a bit surprised by his success.

“Oh, we knew,” Bernardi said. “Because he’s aggressive on the basketball court. There’s people his size that aren’t as good as him. He’s aggressive. He’s tough. And that helps in football, too, because he’ll run down the field and pop someone.”

At the start of the season, Poe was still a secret weapon. That started to change after the Eagles fell behind Berean Christian 17-0 in the opener.

“Chris (Harms, the quarterback) threw a bomb to Marcus, and he just got up over the cornerback and took it down the field for a touchdown, set the tone for the rest of the game,” Bernardi said.

Cloverdale came back to win 28-24.

Poe’s teammates chuckle when they see opponents try to cover him one-on-one. St. Helena, which might have the best defense in the NCL I, tried that in the league opener, but soon switched to double coverage.

“Everybody wants to start like they’ve got one guy that can cover him,” Prieskorn said. “He makes one play, they’ll put two on him. And St. Helena was a pretty good team, and they had two defenders and they still couldn’t stop him. Shoot, you could almost go to him every play.”

The Saints beat Cloverdale 41-13, but Poe was the Eagles’ bright spot.

Harms — who, like Poe, played JV as a sophomore and sat out as a junior — acknowledges that he feels more than comfortable throwing to Poe in a crowd, and even the bad balls have a chance.

“You get a lot more breaks,” Harms said. “You throw the ball high and you think, oh-oh, it’s gonna go in the sidelines. But he gets up there.”

Poe’s basketball experience shines through when he’s playing football. You can see him use his body to box out defenders on fade routes. (Think of longtime NFL tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, both of whom played college basketball.)

Poe also had basketball to thank for his conditioning as football season rolled around, having worked all offseason with Cloverdale boys hoops coach Steve Bernardi, Luke’s uncle.

Prieskorn notes that Poe is among the fastest players in the NCL I, and Bernardi says he has great hands, too.

Oh, and he has developed into a very good defensive end.

“He’s definitely one of the hardest guys to block I’ve ever seen,” Prieskorn said. “His football knowledge hurts him once in a while. But his effort and his athleticism really just makes it a hard matchup for other teams.”

Poe readily acknowledges the “football knowledge” thing.

“I have outside contain, and sometimes I get sucked in too much and they’ll run around me,” he said.

But he’s quick around the edge and, duh, adept at knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage.

Poe is finally getting noticed as a football player. The question is whether he’ll get a chance to play at the next level. He has talked about playing basketball for Craig McMillan, John’s father, at Santa Rosa JC. His football brethren believe his future could be even brighter in pads. The problem is that not a lot of college scouts come snooping around towns like Cloverdale, which is why Prieskorn and his assistants are putting together a highlight film to show to potential recruiters.

“Just coming from a D5, 400-enrollment school, it’s hard to get anybody to take a look at you,” Prieskorn said.

In other words, this might not be the last time Marcus Poe surprises people on the football field.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter @Skinny_Post.