Tonawanda News — When Clayton Hess moved from Ohio to Western New York three years ago, he wanted to make an impact in sports at Tonawanda High School.
At 6-foot-4 and with a strong passion for basketball, it made sense he'd make a name for himself on the court. Last season, Hess averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game as a junior for Tonawanda and was named to the News' all-area second team.
He loves basketball. But right now he's too busy leading the Warriors football team to think about roundball. He's undertaken a mission set forth by Warriors coach Rob Gross and he's dedicated himself to it.
"I'm just trying to fit into the program," Hess said. "Coach has a philosophy that we must protect the tradition (of Tonawanda football) and I've tried to take the lead as a captain and play my role."
Hess is the leader of an 0-2 Warriors team that is trying to recapture a tradition of winning. He's the perfect fit for the role.
Since he was a youngster, Hess has always been a fierce competitor. He doesn't quite know where the fire comes from but he hates to lose.
His attitude has endeared him to Gross, who said Hess is a hard worker that is always looking to improve.
"He's a great leader. He's matured into his role," Gross said. "We've put him in some tough situations as a sophomore and a junior, but he's a guy that's persevered."
Hess played at tight end his freshman season before Gross asked him to move to quarterback. His size and strength offered his team a distinct advantage: having a quarterback with a big arm who can run like a super-sized fullback.
At first Hess struggled with the transition. Understanding the playbook as a quarterback is different than any other spot on the team because he's expected to know what everybody else is doing as well, he said.