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Clawson High School passing combo quarterback #12 Ty Sparks and wide receiver #2 Marquian Johnson have already set a lot of school records, pictured Tuesday September 24, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)


FOOTBALL: Clawson passing combo a treasure others would love to have WITH TOUT VIDEOS

Clawson High School passing combo quarterback #12 Ty Sparks and wide receiver #2 Marquian Johnson have already set a lot of school records, pictured Tuesday September 24, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)

Clawson High School quarterback #12 Ty Sparks pictured Tuesday September 24, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)

Clawson High School wide receiver #2 Marquian Johnson, pictured Tuesday September 24, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)

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CLAWSON — Seemingly each day on their chewed up grass practice field, Clawson players and coaches are picking up items from the ground as if they are digging for gems.

Every Fourth of July, the city holds a carnival right on the field, and debris such as screws and plastic leftover from the fair tends to keep popping up from the ground months later during practices.

“We just pick it up and never give it back,” Clawson head coach Jim Sparks said with a laugh.

The irony is that the Trojans don’t have to hope to find any gems or coins imbedded in the ground, because they have something on the practice field every day that is more valuable than what a lot of football teams around Oakland County have.

The treasure that Clawson has is arguably the best passing combination in the entire county, and that includes what is over at Birmingham Detroit Country Day in the form of senior quarterback Tyler Wiegers and Maurice Ways, who each have committed to Division I programs (Wiegers to Rutgers, Ways to Michigan).

School-size and quality of opponents may speak otherwise to some, but it’s easy to make a case that junior quarterback Ty Sparks and senior wideout Marquian Johnson are the best passing tandem given their chemistry, value to the team, production every game and most importantly, how they are etching their names on so many school records.

A 6-foot-3, 190-pound wideout with glue for hands, Johnson already has set school records for receiving yards in a game, touchdown receptions in a career, most receiving yards in a career and he is well on his way to establishing a new school record for most receiving yards in a season.

Thus far this year, Johnson has 24 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns after having nearly 700 receiving yards last year.

Just like Grand Rapids Christian wide receiver Drake Harris, widely regarded as the state’s best wideout who has committed to Michigan, Johnson thought his athletic future was in basketball until he discovered that he was actually pretty good at this football thing with last season’s performance.

“I had always been a basketball guy,” said Johnson, a resident of Pontiac who decided to attend Clawson . “It just grew up on me. I decided to work at it because I’m a little undersized at my position for basketball. It amazes me every day. I just imagine if I would’ve taken it up sooner what I could’ve done. But it still has worked out and I’m proud of what I’ve done.”

Unlike Harris though, Johnson has not committed to any college program and his future beyond this year is uncertain at the moment.

The biggest thing holding Johnson back is that he doesn’t have the lightning speed that college coaches covet, but in spite of that, Jim Sparks feels he’ll be playing in college somewhere.

“I honestly can’t tell you why someone has yet to pull the trigger on a Division I level,” he said. “He’s a legit 6-3 and since he is an excellent basketball player, he high-points everything. He catches everything with his hands. His speed has improved since last year, which was his knock.”

Ty Sparks is yes, the coach’s son, who had a 60 percent completion rate last season as a sophomore and has bettered those numbers this year, having already thrown for 1,094 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 64.8 completion percentage, a figure that would be a school record if it holds up the rest of the season.

“I would recommend this approach to any coach who would love for his son to play football,” Jim Sparks said. “He would be my tee guy and he would always be around. He only saw the best parts of football such as the enthusiasm and the games. The kids treated him great and he loved it. Our stance was that we weren’t going to make him play until he comes and asks.”

Jim Sparks said that occurred when Ty was in fourth grade, and a future Clawson quarterback was born.

Ever since, it’s been constant practice sessions with Dad in the backyard and film study in the living room.

Naturally, Ty Sparks is relishing having Johnson around this year, because he knows life will be a bit different without Johnson to throw to next season.

“With his size and everything, it helps a lot,” Ty Sparks. “Whenever there is one-on-one (coverage), that is a pretty good matchup for us. We’ll take that whenever we can get it.”

Clawson will definitely try and get Johnson out in one-on-one coverage this Friday in what is its biggest game of the regular season for the Trojans.

Fellow league unbeaten Clinton Township Clintondale visits Clawson, and the winner will all but have the Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division title in its possession, barring a major upset the rest of the season.

Clintondale is formidable, but it doesn’t have the monster combination at quarterback and wide receiver that Clawson has in Sparks and Johnson.

Then again, hardly anybody in the area does, no matter what the school size is.

“It’s the two best teams in the league and it’s going to be a huge game for us,” Ty Sparks said. “We played them last year and they took the league title from us last year. We want it back.”

Last Updated: 9/27/2013 5:35:34 AM EST

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