By Marty Gordon
Glenvar’s loss was Radford’s gain when Landon Clark decided to move for his freshman year of high school. Initially, it was to play basketball for a Radford program that had just won another state title. But somewhere along the line, he discovered he enjoyed playing football and was pretty good at it.
Basketball was out and football was in.
Only a junior, Clark rewrote the school’s record book in almost every category.
In last month’s 48-26 opening round playoff win over Gretna, Clark completed 16 of 24 passes for 267 yards with four touchdowns. He also ran for another score.
For the season, Clark was 146 for 216 passing with only one interception, throwing for 2,668 yards and 40 touchdowns. He also rushed 104 times for 412 yards with seven individual scores.
But there was some early doubt he might even play the position.
His first year on the varsity roster did not go as planned. Clark was ready to take the next step and begin his progression as the team’s quarterback, but just weeks before the team’s first game, he started having problems with his foot.
Doctors told him he had a “Jones fracture,” which is a fracture of the bone on the pinky toe side of the foot, the fifth metatarsal bone. This fracture can happen when individuals increase training, increase pressure on their feet from gaining weight, or run on uneven surfaces.
Jones fractures have some of the highest risks of nonunion for all broken bones which as many as one in three people experience. Fractures can also damage the area around the injury including muscles, nerves, blood vessels, tendons, and ligaments.
These fractures will sometimes heal on their own, but they may take months to heal without surgery, leaving Clark to wonder if football would fit into his 2021 plans.
“I didn’t even want to play quarterback after the injury. I also didn’t want to even play that season,” Clark said.
After some encouragement from teammates and the Radford coaching staff, he jumped under center, and after five games and a playoff run in 2021, he entered the 2022 season as the team’s signal caller.
More than 2,600 yards this season through the air and another 400 on the ground made 10 wins easy. The Bobcats suffered a close loss to Clark’s old school, Glenvar, and lost another close game to Appomattox in the region semi-finals. “That stung,” Clark said.
For his outstanding effort, Clark was named to the Class 1 first-team at quarterback and this week, Clark received another accolade as the 2022 All-County/All-City Player of the Year.
He admits the accolades are great because he knows his hard work has paid off, but the downside is not bringing home a state title. “I would much rather have been in the state championship game, but it didn’t happen,” he said.
Clark is optimistic about his senior season, and a new weight room at the school has added to that positive outlook. “I need to work on my footwork and can’t hesitate in the reads. I have to trust myself in the pocket,” he said.
He said if he can clean up those little things, he can be even better next year. Bad news for opposing defenses.
So far, colleges have not come calling, but Clark might just give them a reason in 2022 to attend a few Radford ball games.