By Ben Murphy
Intensity defined Clare senior middle linebacker Joe McGuire on the football field.
“If you don’t play like that you probably won’t win,” McGuire, who is the Clare County Review’s Defensive Football Player of the Year said. “You have to be able to think quick, be physically quick and you have to be intense. Size doesn’t matter.”
McGuire had 93 tackles for the Pioneers this season and was the centerpiece for the Clare defense that never lost a Jack Pine Conference game and helped the Pioneers finish with a 7-3 record after a loss to Reed City in the playoffs.
“His intensity was overwhelming,” Clare head coach Kelly Luplow said. “He was all business as a linebacker. Pound for pound he’s probably one of our better hitters in awhile. He’s not an extremely big kid, he’s just very coachable, very intense and hem made great reads all the time and got into position to make tackles. He was the quarterback of our defense.”
Luplow continued to boast about his senior.
“He made all the calls on defense,” he said. “He made calls in the huddle, made calls before the snap and he tried to get people into position to make plays and get everybody lined up to where they needed to be which isn’t an easy thing.
“He’s a tremendous leader,” Luplow added. “He did a whole lot with his actions. The younger kids learn from people like that. You can be a tremendous leader just by working hard all the time and being intense like he was.”
For McGuire, this all came with the territory as a Clare football player.
“I think I had fun playing football, I will miss it,” he said. “I got moved up to varsity as a sophomore and I think that really effected the way I played last year and this year just because I had more experience. I think the last few years the team has really jelled, we aren’t individual players we’re a team.”
McGuire is one of four three-year starters that the Pioneers will lose to graduation, something Luplow knows will be hard to replace.
“We have very big shoes to fill,” Luplow said. “With those two guys (Jordan Gross and McGuire), Seth Harton and Lee Cole, it’s going to be tough to replace those guys but we’ll figure something out. I don’t think we can replace them by next year but we can hopefully fill in and sustain a little bit.”