"We knew we had him a little out of position last year by necessity,'' Midkiff said. "This year, we're committed to put him out in space and let him play the position he has a chance to play in college at slot receiver, and it's been a success so far.''
A success in the stat books, to be sure. But not on the scoreboard.
Now that Tolsia broke its three-year losing run at 19 games, Nitro inherits the state's second-longest streak behind Mount View's 30.
Clark catches the significance of that, too.
"It's real frustrating,'' he said, "because we know we have the talent to do it. We've got to have the heart to go out and know we can win. I feel like over the past year we haven't always done that, and we need to fix it.''
Clark has experienced success in his other sports. He plays outfield on Nitro's baseball team, which has reached the Class AAA state tournament six straight times. Last winter he was the No. 2 scorer on the basketball team, whose 12-12 record marked the program's first non-losing season since 2008.
Football, however, hasn't kept up, and Clark hasn't accepted the losing that's followed, even if he's been able to hold up his end of the bargain.
"Honestly,'' he said, "I really don't care how many yards I get. We need to get wins to get to the next level, and that's what we've got to do.''
Another injury, this time a tweak to his ankle during the preseason, has nagged Clark for a few weeks, but he's grown accustomed to dealing with adversity and bouncing back. Through all the discouraging days, he said it's still been worth it.
"A lot of people would [wonder about that],'' Clark said. "But sports is my life. It's what I need to go to college. My grades are good, but sports - and definitely football - will get me where I need to be.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.