Davarious Clark is no stranger to facing – and beating – adversity. The senior two-way star at Hooks High School will not let anything get in the way of accomplishing his goals and reaching his dreams.
Clark missed three consecutive seasons from 2016 to 2018. He dislocated his shoulder in the second game of his eighth grade season. Clark recovered in time for basketball season, but was then diagnosed with nephrosis, a kidney disorder. He was forced to change his diet and eating habits in order to live a healthy life and get back on the football field.
“We have to drive up to Little Rock for kidney check ups every three or four months,” Clark said. “Those doctors have become family to me and have helped with my recovery since my eighth grade.”
Little did Clark know that more challenges were coming. Clark tore his ACL early in fall practice during his freshman year after turning the heads from the varsity coaching staff.
“I was going in to make a tackle,” Clark said. “But my knee went the wrong way and I heard a pop. I knew something was wrong.”
Despite the injury occurring so early, the then-freshman had already caught the eye of Hooks varsity head football coach Chris Birdwell. Birdwell explained that the junior varsity team wears white helmets, while the varsity wears blue. Clark had already made an impact that was forcing the coaching staff to consider moving him up the depth chart.
“He was knocking the crap out of two pretty good senior running backs and making about every tackle,” Birdwell said. “I looked at the other coaches and said that this kid is going to have a blue helmet before the day is over.”
Clark was forced to watch his freshman season on the sidelines as he rehabbed from the unfortunate knee injury. Then, Clark and his mother moved to Denton and away from the doctors that were helping with his recovery. The family struggled to find a doctor to continue the rehab, and Clark suffered yet another setback.
“There was a football tournament for Martin Luther King Day,” Clark said. “And I put myself in it, even though my knee wasn’t healed. I ended up messing up my knee again and that took me out of my sophomore season.”
As a result, Clark missed three straight seasons of the game he loved. Overcoming multiple injuries in a short span is difficult for anybody to do, much less a teenager wanting to make plays on the field.
Clark recorded practice and game film from the end zone during his sophomore season, which only made the desire to get back out on the field that much greater. While many would have likely given up after a kidney disease diagnosis and multiple knee injuries, Clark continued to push through the adversity.
“My mom has always told me to keep God first,” Clark explained. “When you put God first, you can do anything that you put your mind to. That was my mindset during my recovery.”
Clark participated in track, running both the 100-meter and 200-meter, to help improve his body and build strength and speed in preparation for his much-anticipated junior campaign for the Hornets.
“You could see him getting stronger while running track,” Birdwell said. “His work ethic is unbelievable, and it showed while he was recovering from that second knee injury.”
The Hooks Hornets opened the 2019 season on the road against Linden-Kildare, and Clark wasted no time to make his impact felt. The junior scored a touchdown and even hurdled a defender during his first official football game since eighth grade.
From there, Clark put together a season that has caught the eyes of college coaches. The Hornets posted a 4-8 record in 2018, but with Clark carrying the football and playing defensive back, Hooks finished the 2019 season at 8-3 and won district after being picked to finish fifth during the preseason.
“Davarious is one of our better defensive players and is very valuable when we are on offense,” Birdwell said. “We wouldn’t have had the kind of season we did or beaten teams like Atlanta and Mount Vernon without him.”
Clark became a nightmare for opposing defenses. He carried the ball eight times for 140 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-0 win over Redwater last October before totaling 178 yards and three scores in an outing against New Boston in a 47-15 victory the very next week. Each Friday night, defensive coordinators struggled to contain him.
One game that stands out to the humble and soft-spoken Clark when looking back at his first season back on the gridiron is the showdown against Hughes Springs. Clark totaled 171 yards and found the end zone twice in a 35-19 victory, handing the Mustangs their second loss of the season.
“Hughes Springs was getting really hyped before that game,” Clark said. “And we were picked to finish fifth in our district. We wanted to prove everybody wrong.”
Clark finished 2019 with 1,489 yards and 23 touchdowns during his first season back on the football field – an average of more than 135 yards and two scores per game. As a result, he has earned offers from multiple Division III schools and is receiving interest from Division I and Division II programs.
Clark’s goals for his final season on the high school level include reaching the 2,000-yard mark and doubling his touchdown total. Coach Birdwell is excited to see what is in store for his star this upcoming season, thanks in large part to Clark’s character.
“He is definitely a difference maker,” Birdwell said. “He is a leader that leads by example. First one in, last one out. He is very humble and is a great kid. He sets the tone for everyone.”
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