Casey Clark doesn’t think it’s real.
Then someone at school walks by and says, “Hey state champ!”
The senior kicker for the Trinity football team, Clark converted three extra-points in the Titans 45-19 win over Cardinal Ritter in the Class 3 championship game Saturday at Faurot Field on the campus of the University of Missouri.
Clark, 17, is the first area female to play in a championship football game in Missouri history. She’s the first area female to score in a championship game, too.
“It’s crazy and a cool experience,” Clark said.
It’s an experience she had to be goaded into. Her mother, Beth Clark, works at Trinity. When football coach Terrence Curry asked her if she knew anyone who could kick, her first thought was Casey.
Curry said she had an open invitation.
A soccer player for the Titans who recently verbally committed to the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Clark had plenty of experience booting a ball. She’s scored 34 career goals for Trinity’s girls soccer team, including 18 her freshman season. The transition from kicking a soccer ball to a football can be a tricky one, but Clark nailed her tryout.
“I didn’t miss one that day,” Clark said. “Coach TC said the spot was mine if I wanted it.”
Clark took it and joined the team for her first game on Sept. 14, a 56-6 win over O’Fallon Christian. Clark hit 31 extra-point kicks this season and converted three of her five attempts in the championship game.
“During the state game I didn’t want to mess it up,” Clark said. “It was a little nerve wracking.”
It was her first year with the football team but her second time playing in a state championship. Clark was a freshman when Trinity’s girls soccer team played for the Class 1 title. It lost a 1-0 match to Saxony Lutheran.
“Of course the first state championship game I could win would be in football,” Clark said with a laugh.
On a team filled with high level NCAA Division I prospects, it would have been easy for Clark to feel intimidated. Most of the players at Trinity have been playing since they were kids. Instead, they opened themselves up to Clark and embraced her.
“The guys were way more supportive than I ever could have imagined,” Clark said. “The whole Trinity community was supportive.”
Now the only question is whether her championship ring will look like those of her teammates. It’s one thing for a gaudy, shiny bauble to bling on the big paws of offensive linemen Ira Henry (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) or Jalen St. John (6-5, 300). Clark is 5-6 and a big ring might be the size of her fist.
“It might weigh me down, I’m pretty small,” she said.
Clark is believed to be the first female to score in a Missouri football state title game since Owensville had a pair of players do so in 2006.
Stephanie Chapman kicked two extra points and Brooke Adkison had one Nov. 25, 2006, as Owensville lost 56-21 to Harrisonville in the Class 3 state final at Edward Jones Dome. Like Clark, Chapman and Adkison had been recruited from their school’s soccer team.