HS Football 2021: Seton Catholic Cougars

Senior leaders Sean Emberlin, Lance Stuck, and Dax Clifton hoping to go out with a winning season as Seton Catholic’s football program grows

Seton Catholic football program more than doubles in size since the spring

It was not too long ago when Seton Catholic football players worried that there would not be a Seton Catholic football team.

How long ago?

Try six months.

“It’s pretty crazy. It’s awesome. Last spring, we only had 18 players,” senior Lance Stuck said. “For a while, it was looking like we weren’t going to have a team. It’s a blessing to see this.”

“This” would be a full team practicing for a full fall football season. This week, Seton Catholic has 42 players out for football.

“I have a little brother out here, so I know he’s in good hands for the future,” Stuck said.

Sean Emberlin, Lance Stuck, and Dax Clifton are the senior leaders for a young but growing football program at Seton Catholic. Photo by Paul Valencia
Sean Emberlin, Lance Stuck, and Dax Clifton are the senior leaders for a young but growing football program at Seton Catholic. Photo by Paul Valencia

It’s been quite the ride for the seniors. Dax Clifton said the program seemed strong during his freshman year. Things happened. Then there was hardly a team by the time the COVID season came around. And now look at the Cougars.

Dennis Herling is in his second season as the head coach but first for a traditional fall season. He said the youth program that was started recently is paying off, with a lot of young players showing up for football this season. 

Plus, he has some great seniors leaders to, well, yes, lead those younger guys.

Clifton is a wide receiver and outside linebacker. The coach says he has a rule that Clifton must say at least three words in practice every day. That’s how quiet he is on the norm.
“He leads by example. I never have to question his work ethic,” Herling said.

Sean Emberlin is a wide receiver and defensive back. He does whatever the coaches ask him to do. Plus, he is the vocal leader of the Cougars, Herling said.

And then there is the 6-foot-3 Stuck, a great target at wide receiver and a ferocious free safety.

“If you ask any coach in the area who’s Seton’s dude, Lance would probably be the guy they’d name,” Herling said.

Even with those seniors, this is a young squad. Do not take that to mean this team does not have high expectations, though. The Cougars did finish with a winning record in the abbreviated season. 

“We need to have a winning record this year. We need to build on last year. We only had 18 guys and we were able to do that,” Stuck said of the 3-2 mark. “We have 42 players so we should be able to do more this year.”

The program passes the eyeball test. In the spring, they did not have enough players for a full scout team to go against the starters. This week, 22 players on the field, and another 20 or or so watching, waiting to get in their reps.

The new players to the team will soon learn just how special it is to play at Seton Catholic, the seniors said. 

“It’s a really tight family. Everyone knows each other,” Emberlin said. “This football family, it’s love.”

The school, too.

“At Seton, I can name every kid that goes to this school,” Clifton said. “It’s really amazing to have that community. And through this football team, I’m getting to know all these freshmen. It’s pretty awesome.”

Sean Emberlin, Lance Stuck, and Dax Clifton are thrilled that they have so many teammates this season. In the spring Seton Catholic had 18 players. Now it has 42 on the roster. Photo by Paul Valencia
Sean Emberlin, Lance Stuck, and Dax Clifton are thrilled that they have so many teammates this season. In the spring Seton Catholic had 18 players. Now it has 42 on the roster. Photo by Paul Valencia

Oh, and that community? It shows up on game days.

“It’s a great experience,” Stuck said. “You know everyone. Everyone knows you. There’s a solid 100 (students) out at the games, which is about half of our student body. Most schools can’t say they’ve got half of their student body to the games. There is a great support system here for football.”

The Seton seniors want to put on a show for those fans, want to go out with a winning season in a full season. 

And they want to celebrate one last ride together with this football program.

“This is everything. High school football is everything,” Emberlin said. “This is where you’re going to have the most fun. This is where you’re going to make the most memories. It means everything to a lot of us.”

“The friendship and family aspect of high school football is what is so amazing,” Clifton said. “That’s what I love about high school football. It’s family.”

And that Seton Catholic football family is growing. 

Senior leaders Sean Emberlin, Lance Stuck, and Dax Clifton hoping to go out with a winning season as Seton Catholic’s football program grows
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