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- "What are you trying to tell me, Dad? That I'm from another planet?" - Clark Kent, Pilot.
In his freshman year, Clark's closest friends were Pete Ross and Chloe Sullivan. The three worked on the high school newspaper, the Smallville Torch. Clark's duties were minimal, such as writing the lunch menu and other small articles.
Clark was accidentally hit by Lex Luthor's car, causing them to fall into a river. He was unharmed and swam to the bottom of the river to save Lex from drowning. Although Clark told Lex that the car did not hit him, rather he saw his car fall and jumped in to save him, Lex always had his suspicions. Lex tried to reward Clark with a new truck, but Jonathan refused it. Frustrated, Clark confessed to Jonathan that he didn't dive in after Lex's car: he was actually hit by it. Jonathan told him how he and Martha found him and a spacecraft, which they hid in the storm cellar. Confused and angry, Clark went to a graveyard to gather his thoughts where he had his first conversation with his long-time crush, Lana Lang.
Clark finally realized the effect of meteor rock on him when Lana's boyfriend, Whitney Fordman, saw Clark and Lana talking, then chose Clark to be the traditional Scarecrow, weakening him with Lana's necklace. Whitney strung him up in a field, but Clark was saved from his post by Lex. He then stopped the vengeful metahuman Jeremy Creek, another past Scarecrow, from electrocuting the students of Smallville High.
In retaliation for Whitney's actions, Clark used his super strength to damage and stack his (Whitney's) and his fellow athletes' trucks on top of each other: much to the quarterback's chagrin. Against his parents' judgment, Clark tried out for the football team his freshman year as a starting tailback. However, after stopping Coach Walt Arnold from using his pyrokinetic abilities on others, Clark resigned from the team.
Clark met many metahumans his freshman year: those who used their abilities to keep themselves alive and achieve their vengeful goals, such as Sean Kelvin and Tina Greer, and those that would seem to be cursed with their gifts and use them to help others, such as the blind, precognitive Cassandra Carver, the persuasive hermit Kyle Tippet, and the young telepath Ryan James.
When Clark saved the life of a classmate, depressed and abused Eric Summers, he temporarily lost his powers. Eric wandered away from their geology class field trip and, holding a meteor rock, was about to jump off of a bridge. As Clark tried to pull Eric to safety, the two were struck by lightning and Clark's abilities were transferred to Eric. Clark remarked that his farm chores took two hours instead of five minutes, but it was worth it to be able to play pick-up basketball with his classmates. He also considered the possibility that if he were to get his abilities back, he might not have to keep them a secret because everyone accepted Eric. However, Eric then attacked Clark by throwing him against a car, injuring his ribs. When Eric continued to act psychotically violent, Clark reclaimed his abilities because he realized that, unlike himself, Eric did not have a supportive family to help him manage the responsibility that came with the powers.
By the end of his freshman year, Clark's powers had steadily increased. After being caught in an exploding truck, he remarked that he barely felt the heat from explosion and the debris did not even bruise him.
After personal struggles, Whitney set his differences with Clark aside and asked him to look after Lana after he enlisted in the Marines.Clark sometimes considered the possibility of a romantic relationship with Chloe, but was worried that it would mean losing her as a friend and still held hope that he and Lana were meant to be together. When Chloe was kidnapped, Clark saved her, and faced with the possibility that he could have lost her forever, he decided to take her to the Spring Formal. They almost kissed, but the news of tornadoes in Smallville interrupted their evening together and he left her to rescue Lana.