SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- There are days when St. Xavier senior center Sam Klare would prefer not to be practicing on Ballaban Field.
His legs may hurt. His shoulder may be bothering him from the previous game.
Klare, who is 6 feet and 230 pounds, isn’t the largest center at this level. But, he effectively blocks a variety of sizes on the defensive line each week.
And he’s adjusted well to two quarterbacks and several injuries on the St. Xavier offensive line.
It will be the 12th regional final appearance for St. X, according to Athletic Director John Sullivan. It is the first regional final appearance for Sycamore.
After the Bombers’ emotional overtime win over No. 1 state ranked and previously undefeated Colerain Nov. 11, St. X quickly turned its focus to Sycamore on Saturday morning.
The only difference was the Bombers were able to report at 9 a.m., Saturday, an hour later than usual. After all, it had been a late night. Klare and his teammates soaked in the upset.
On Monday, Klare and the offensive line sat on some steps and received their scouting report for Sycamore. The players and coaches quickly turned the page.
“They gave us an article from the (Colerain game),” Klare said. “They said ‘roll it up and crumble it up’ and they brought over a trash can said, ‘throw it in there.’ We aren’t done yet. That kind of set the tone for the week.”
Known as a quiet leader, Klare is cerebral in his approach. But, it doesn’t mean he’s less physical.
He often matches up with the biggest player from an opposing team. Cleveland St. Ignatius put an offensive lineman at nose guard during a goal-line situation earlier this season.
“He never balks at it,” St. Xavier co-offensive line coach Matt Keith said. “He just does his best. Most games he’s pretty tired afterward because he’s battling the whole time.”
The Bombers have seven offensive linemen injured overall this season. Three of those players are out for the year including Under Armour All-American and Clemson commit Matt Bockhorst.
Add to the fact that St. X has played Under Armour All-American Sean Clifford (Penn State) and junior Chase Wolf at quarterback throughout the season. And the Bombers have tackled what is arguably the toughest schedule in the nation.
It’s no small feat how Klare and the offensive line have persevered to be one of eight teams left in Division I.
“Definitely playing in the GCL and the schedule we played you are going to get nicks and bruises along the way,” Klare said.
“But, you’ve got to fight through it. There is never a time that you stop. Coach (Steve Specht) always makes it a point there is always a difference of being hurt and being injured. You have to play through hurt and you can’t play through injured.”
Klare and sophomore Matthew Mohn have been the only healthy regular starting offensive linemen throughout the season, according to Keith and co-offensive line coach Dave Allspach.
It also certainly helps that Klare, who lives in Colerain Township, has a 95 average academically or the equivalent of a 4.0 grade-point average. He takes Advanced Placement math, government and physics classes.
Klare’s father, John Klare, is a 1982 St. Xavier graduate who played football at Georgia Tech. John Klare takes plenty of game photos for the school. He couldn’t be more proud of the team’s fight through adversity -- injuries, a last-second loss to Warren Centraland a fight to get into the postseason in Week 10.
“My wife Lisa and I have been blessed with four great kids and I am proud of them all and certainly what Sam has accomplished in all aspects of his life so far -- personally, academically and athletically is part of that pride,” John Klare said. “Sam has always embraced the challenges presented him and accomplished a lot.”
Sam Klare, who also pitches and plays first base for the St. X baseball team, is still considering his college options.
He wants to make sure he has an excellent academic fit first and foremost. He wants to study either biomedical or aerospace engineering.
His understanding of football schemes has made him a traffic cop for his fellow offensive linemen on the field. He is in charge of calling out the defense and alerting his teammates accordingly.
“I think the best part for him has just been the mental part as far as directing the other linemen,” Allspach said. “He’s extremely smart to the point of understanding what we want.”