Will Clark never had to wrestle with the idea of becoming a football player.
That's because the Crown Point High standout had a familiar face and a positive role model to guide him every step of the way.
"My dad influenced me to play football because I wanted to be just like him,' recalled the senior linebacker. Growing up, he always told stories of when he played and we always watched college football together, so it was a pretty easy decision."
Father really did know best when it comes to the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Clark, who has excelled not only on the gridiron but the wrestling mat as well.
"My dad wrestled in high school, so he wanted me to get involved in it too," explained Clark. "I started in the fifth grade and it took off from there."
In addition to being in the middle of everything on the Bulldogs' defense, he has also been a force inside the circle as well for Crown Point's back-to-back state championship wrestling squad.
After posting a 39-6 record and finishing fifth in the 195-pound weight class as a sophomore at the 2022 IHSAA state finals, he found his way into the winner's circle last winter by claiming the 220-pound state title with a 42-3 mark.
"Wrestling has helped me a tremendous amount with football," Clark explained. "It helps my conditioning and helps me with tackling. Westling has taught me how to use my leverage which transfers to football.
"But on the other hand, football doesn't help with wrestling. I always go into the season out of shape. Wrestling conditioning is very intense, so I have to cut the weight I worked hard to put on for football."
Entering his third campaign on the varsity, Clark has certainly proven to be a difference maker with 57 tackles, including seven for loss, and four quarterback sacks.
"My strengths are my size, speed, and playing the run," said Clark, who maintains a 3.49 grade-point average. "I probably need to get better at playing lower as well as improve my pass drops. I could also probably watch a little more film and try to stay constant in the weight room, The main thing, though, is I have to keep getting better at practice every week."
Since taking over the program in 2021, Craig Buzea has seen Clark emerge as a true leader.
"Will has been one of the main players that have helped us turn around our program since we took over two- and one-half years ago," Buzea said. "He is respected by all his teammates as he brings a tremendous work ethic on the field and in the weight room. His success on the wrestling mat helps with that as well.
"He has been a defensive captain every game since his junior year not because of a rah-rah approach. It's because of his tenacious play on the field and the way he presents himself with quiet confidence on and off the field, while always willing to help a teammate out in need."
Will has mutual feelings about his field boss.
"I absolutely love what our coaching staff has down with the culture," Clark said. "It's exactly what our team needed. We have not only played better and been very successful, but the culture has made us more of a team and brought all of the guys closer. We wouldn't be in the position we are without our great coaching staff."
Another positive influence for Will has been his twin brother, Paul Clark, who sees action on both sides of the front line and is an accomplished wrestler himself having finished fourth in the state at 220 pounds in 2022 and third at 285 pounds this past winter.
"It is really awesome to share all the special moments with your brother," explained Will Clark. "It gives you someone to compete with every day. We wrestle with each other most days at practice and push each other during football practice. We compete against each other because it helps us get better.
"We might get into some fights sometimes, but it's all out of love because we are trying to make each other better."
As it turns out, the Clark brothers will still be together this coming fall as they both have scholarships to continue their playing and academic careers at the University of Buffalo.
"I am really excited because I see it as a big part of my future," Will Clark said of his college choice.
Although Wil and Paul will be moving on, the Clark family will still be represented with freshmen Zach (defensive line) and Ben (wide receiver) on hand to carry on the tradition.
However, there is still some unfinished business for the Clark quartet to attend to when No. 4 (Class 6A) Crown Point (7-0) looks to clinch at least a share of its second straight Duneland Athletic Conference crown when it travels to Chesterton (2-5) on October 6.