When the Rensselaer coaching staff huddled over the summer about switching to a five-man defensive front, coach Chris Meeks knew he needed a good nose tackle to make it work.
His target of Clayton Geyer proved to be a bull's-eye. The Bombers are the top 2A scoring defense in the state, allowing 10.2 points per game, and the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior has been a huge reason why.
"Clayton brings a whole lot of energy from the middle of our defense," Meeks said. "He has always been a great defensive end, and this summer we made the determination ... he would be the perfect nose. He has all the qualities of a great nose guard. He's very quick and athletic. To his credit, he made a very smooth transition and learned how to be very good at his new position."
Despite ceding more than 100 pounds on a regular basis, Geyer has loved the move inside, epitomizing Rensselaer's undersized but hyperactive group.
"I really like being able to be down in there," he said. "It's more of a no-rules-type thing. It's all aggression. If I lock up on a 300-pound guy, it's not going to go well. I've got to work one shoulder. I've got to be faster. It's important to fire off the ball. We tend to have a lot more energy. We're always jumping around, high-fiving each other. We physically and mentally wear (teams) down."
To prevent his own attrition, Geyer increased his weight lifting in the offseason, and the team's in-season conditioning has also proven valuable.
"It's the only way to survive," he said. "After the Andrean (sectional) game (last year), it really woke me up (like), all right, my spare time, I've got to hit the weight room. It's something coach pushes on all the guys, staying strong, getting even stronger. We haven't really had any serious injuries, and that's been huge. ... You just have to be tough and stay with it."
Geyer's impact hasn't been felt only in the stops he makes -- five sacks and seven tackles for loss -- but those he sets up. Offenses often double team him to try to keep him out of plays.
"I'm able to put quite a bit of pressure on the quarterback," Geyer said. "Every once in a while, I get (a sack), but normally he bails out and (our ends and linebackers) are waiting on him."
His presence is also felt in the running game, where Geyer's ability to follow right behind the trapper prevents teams from pulling their guard.
"He has a tremendous motor and brings his best each and every play," Meeks said. "He always has a positive attitude and loves the game."
Monday through Saturday, Geyer is all Bombers black. On Sundays, he changes his color to blue for his beloved Colts. The family has had season tickets for years and makes the trip to Indianapolis for most home games. Geyer was there recently for Peyton Manning's return with Denver and has regularly attended Colts camps in the summer.
How cool would it be to end his high school career on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf where his favorite team plays?
"It would be an experience I can't imagine," Geyer said, "especially being in the same locker room where some of the greatest players of all time have been."
Tipton stands in the way.
"I think they're the best line I've seen all the way through," Geyer said. "As a senior, you only have so many more games. You want to face the best competition you can to see how much you've progressed. I'm excited to play them again."