HIGH SCHOOLS – Christian Brothers Academy has stormed through its first six games of the 2022 season, boasting a perfect record and holding the inside track to the top seed for the Section II Class AA playoffs.
Making it all the more impressive, the Brothers have done that with perhaps the team’s best player — maybe the best football player in all of Section II, in fact — sidelined for the entire season with torn cartilage in his knee.
At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, David Clement was a titanic presence for the Brothers as a tight end and defensive end in 2021, one of the major reasons the Brothers headed into this season as defending area Class AA champions.
Having verbally committed to Syracuse University last spring, Clement was looking forward to helping CBA in its repeat bid this fall. But, during a summer team camp at UAlbany, things took an unfortunate turn.
“I’d just come back from vacation,” Clement said in a recent phone interview with The Daily Gazette. “It was on a Tuesday, and we were doing some 7-on-7s. It was the last offensive play of my team’s game, in the last game for us. It was just a [vertical route], and I ran it and caught it, and landed down wrong.”
Initially, Clement thought the injury was merely a sprain, and his hopes were high after things started feeling better a couple days later.
But, then the results of Clement’s MRI came back, revealing the torn cartilage.
In an instant, his season was over.
“Hearing the options that I had,” he said, “it was really disappointing knowing that I was going to have to miss the season.”
And not just football season, either. Also a basketball standout for the Brothers, Clement said he’ll be out throughout the winter as well as he focuses on rehabbing the injury to join head coach Dino Babers’ Syracuse program in 2023.
Losing Clement on the field is significant for coach Bobby Burns’ Brothers. As a junior, he caught 16 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns — including the go-ahead score in CBA’s Class AA Super Bowl victory over Shenendehowa — while also adding 36 tackles and seven sacks as part of a massive, intimidating defensive front.
Without him, the Brothers have clicked right along behind speedy dual-threat quarterback Donald Jones and fellow tight end/defensive end Chuck Volans — himself a Colgate University commit — and Clement’s cheered on the team’s success.
“I’m always going to support my guys, no matter what,” he said. “It’s been good to see them win and keep winning. It’s exciting every game.”
But, from the moment his MRI results came back, there’s been something missing for Clement.
And it’s not just being a part of the games and the championship chase. What the big man misses most are all the little things that go along with the daily grind of football.
“I miss them,” he said. “It’s hard to watch them go through the workouts, watching them do the sprints. That was the worst part of watching it all, because I just wish I could be doing that with them. I know how much I would probably hate doing them, but just looking at it, I wish I was there to do it with them.”
It’s made his senior year at CBA a conflicted one, but Clement’s committed to pushing through.
“It’s been hard to watch,” he said, “but it’s just about recovering now.
“I’ve still got my last year of school with the boys, and that’s pretty good.”
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