NORTH ANDOVER — Joe Clancy has played just about every role on a football field — high school phenom, Thanksgiving Day goat, record-setting senior, college backup, part-time relief quarterback and, again, record-setting senior.
After seeing the gridiron from just about every angle over the last 13 years, the former Newburyport High quarterback may take the field for the last time Saturday when Merrimack College takes on Southern Connecticut State in Northeast-10 Conference Championship Weekend.
Much like his high school career, Clancy will finish at Merrimack without a conference championship to his record, but he will have his name etched all over the school’s record book for passing statistics. In his two years as a starter and another as a part-time quarterback, Clancy has set school marks for career completions (779), attempts (1,222) and touchdowns (85). This fall, as a fifth-year senior, Clancy leads all Division 2 quarterbacks in the nation in touchdowns (44) and ranks second in passing yards (3,856).
“I grew up in Chelmsford,” said Merrimack football coach Dan Curran, who played eight years of professional football. “If you told me 10 years ago a kid from Newburyport would make it to the NFL, I would have laughed at you. Joe’s come a long way here. He’s forced the hands of NFL executives so that they have to take a look at him. He’s been that good.”
The family tradition
Clancy admits he was destined to play football. His father, Brian, was a Newburyport Clipper. His uncle, Kevin Sullivan, and cousin, also Kevin Sullivan, were quarterbacks at Newburyport. His brother, Conor, and cousin, Sean Sullivan, were running backs. Another cousin, Pat Foley, was a linebacker at Newburyport and is now coaching at Brooks School.
“The way I was brought up, I learned to enjoy and love football,” Clancy said. “Growing up, I wanted to be a part of the family. I did the things my older cousins did.”