To say Mercer Island Islanders senior quarterback Clay Dippold is battle tested would be an understatement.
Dippold, who was the starting signal caller during his junior season in 2018, will return as the undisputed starter under center during the 2019 football season. In the spring and summer of 2018, Dippold won a competitive battle for the starting quarterback role against three other players. Dippold led the Islanders to a 6-3 overall record last season.
“It was a great competition. Competition helps you as a player. It was actually really fun going against the other quarterbacks because it helped me get better. I pushed myself to get the starting job. Nothing is given here, everything is earned,” Dippold said. “It was a lot of fun leading the team. You have the responsibility of being ‘the guy.’ I had a lot of fun and our team did really well last year. It was a fun ride.”
The Islanders won their first six games but lost their final three contests during the 2018 season. Dippold would like nothing more than to lead his team to the promised land this fall.
“We want to go to the playoffs big time. That would be huge. Hopefully we can take the championship. We just have to take it one game at a time. We are in the process of getting ready for the season right now,” Dippold said during a weight-room session on June 14. “Spring ball was a success. We incorporated a lot of our new offense. It was challenging but it was good to see it work and how successful it was.”
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 205-pound quarterback considers himself a traditional drop-back passer but is thrilled to add to his game in the offseason.
“I tend to focus on accuracy and have always been more of a pocket, drop-back passer. This year I have been working on a lot of of stuff on the run since we’re going to incorporate the read option into our offense,” Dippold said.
Dippold is a rare left-handed quarterback. The most recent NFL starting quarterbacks to be left handed were Kellen Moore, Michael Vick and Tim Tebow. Despite being a lefty, Dippold never tried to emulate the latest signal callers who share his style.
“I don’t really watch a lot of left-handed quarterbacks. I just watch football in general. I really like Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints quarterback). I’m also a big WSU Cougars fan,” Dippold said.
With his senior season right around the corner, Dippold knows how fast it can go and what is at stake.
“I remember being a freshman (2016 season) and hearing all the seniors talk about, ‘Don’t take it for granted. It goes by so fast.’ Now it’s our time being seniors and we are telling everyone that it goes by fast. It is a cool experience and a cool ordeal,” Dippold said.
This fall will be the third consecutive season Dippold has played for Islanders’ head coach Ed Slezinger. Slezinger was hired prior to the start of the 2017 season.
“He is an amazing coach. He is a coach that’s not only there for you on the field but he is there for you off the field. He doesn’t want to just build a football player, he wants to help his players become a better person in life. He is really good at instilling confidence. I have lacked confidence in the past and he’s helped me get through things,” Dippold said.