TAKING ON THE BEST

in Football

Coming out of an open week, the Clifton Cubs host the 7th-ranked Franklin Lions in a stretch run to make a seventh straight trip to the postseason

CLIFTON – Needing at least one win in their last two games to make their seventh consecutive trip to the Class 3A, Division II postseason, the Clifton Cubs will host the seventh-ranked Franklin Lions at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Cub Stadium.

Coming out of an open week, the Cubs will try to knock Franklin from the undefeated ranks in district as the Lions locked up the District 13-3A, DII title with a convincing 69-38 victory over previously undefeated Buffalo last Friday.

“Franklin is really rolling right now,” Clifton football head coach Chuck Caniford said. “They are solid on defense and very explosive on offense. They do a great job with their scheme, and they don’t make many mistakes. They will be one of the most complete teams that we have seen all year, which is why they are undefeated in district.”

Before the open date, Clifton (2-2 in district, 3-5 overall) gave undefeated Buffalo (3-1, 7-1) all they could handle, using a sound game plan that went according to script in the first half. But the Bison used third quarter stampede of 14 unanswered points to power past the Cubs for a 41-23 home victory.

“Buffalo has an outstanding football team, and they are very explosive on offense,” Caniford said. “We knew it would be a challenge to slow them down, so we had to try to control the time of possession and keep them off the field.  We were able to do that in the first half.

“We were right where we wanted to be at halftime, only trailing by three and getting the ball to start the second half. Unfortunately, we did not have good possessions on our first two drives of the second half, and that was the difference in the game.”

Using the open week to regroup his young squad for the stretch run, Caniford feels like the Cubs stand ready to take on the challenge, beginning with Franklin (5-0, 6-2) Friday night.

“We were able to get a lot of good work in over the bye week,” Caniford said. “We worked on both Franklin and Lexington, but more importantly got back to the basics and focused on just getting better as a football team. I think we were able to accomplish what we needed to get done in those practices to give us a chance to make a push here in the final two weeks.”

Clifton enters the game in a two-way tie for fourth place in district with the Lexington Eagles (2-2, 5-2). Regardless of the outcome against Franklin and Lexington’s game against Buffalo Friday night, the regular season finale at Lexington will be for a playoff spot.

“Nothing about this year has been normal,” Caniford said. “But one thing that has materialized as we expected is that the playoff positioning will not be decided until Week 11.”

Photos by DAVID HARDING

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