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By his own admission, Jack Clarke probably wasn’t quite ready to take on the challenge of running his own basketball program at the varsity level when he first applied to be the head man at Boulder four years ago.

Now an even more seasoned assistant who has grown more knowledgable of the intricacies at his alma mater, Clarke is more than ready for that challenge now.

On Friday, Boulder athletic director Melissa Warfield announced that Clarke will take over the boys basketball program he played for during his prep days, replacing his former boss Eric Eisenhard.

“I’ve really grown up in that time, and I’ve been really, really fortunate to work under some great coaches,” Clarke said. “Eric was such a great mentor. He’s got the basketball down, but he’s got all the other things that go with it down too. It was a privilege to work under him.”

A 2001 graduate of Boulder, Clarke began his coaching career at Centaurus under Warriors boys coach Andy Horning during the 2007-08 season. He returned to his alma mater under coach Alan Schulz and was an assistant on the Panthers’ 2011 Class 5A state runner-up squad.

After his failed bid to take over the Panthers following Schulz’s resignation, a job that ultimately went to Eisenhard, Clarke returned to Centaurus for one season before once again rejoining Boulder, serving the past three seasons as an assistant under Eisenhard.

Athletic director Melissa Warfield noted the professional growth Clarke displayed during an interview process that drew 21 applicants before the pool was whittled to three finalists.

“His passion for the job and for Boulder High School really stood out,” said Warfield. “Jack has worked hard for this job. He’s applied before, and he’s ready now. It’s his time.”

Clarke will be charged with continuing the success the Panthers enjoyed under both Schulz and Eisenhard. The Panthers went 19-7 this past season, putting together playoff wins against Liberty and Cherokee Trail to reach the 5A Sweet 16. Eisenhard, who was forced to resign after his wife accepted an appealing job in Texas, compiled a mark of 56-43 during his four seasons at the helm.

“I have huge shoes to fill, but I have to be my own person at the same time,” said Clarke, who will marry Boulder girls coach Sara Klippert in July. “We want to play fast. We’ll be a defensive-oriented team, but we’ll want to play fast on offense.

“One of my challenges will be to keep a good thing going. We’re in a place where I think we can reload instead of rebuild. We want to be that team that kids look at and say that they want to play basketball for Boulder.”

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