Daily archive

November 02, 2021

CLEAR AS MUD

in Football

Despite loss to top-ranked Franklin, Clifton Cubs still alive in crowded four-team battle for District 13-3A, DII’s fourth place playoff berth

CLIFTON – Despite suffering a dominating defeat at the hands of Class 3A Division II’s top-ranked Franklin, the Clifton Cubs remain alive in the District 13-3A, DII playoff picture heading into the final week of the 2021 Texas high school football season.

Going into last Friday night’s game on the road, the Cubs knew they would have their hands full with undefeated and defending district champion Franklin as the Lions powered their way to a convincing 57-0 victory over Clifton.

“Franklin is very deserving of their ranking,” Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford said. “I thought we did some good things at times. But obviously, we didn’t do enough of them against a team like Franklin.”

Limiting the Lions (6-0 in district, 10-0 overall) to only 57 points proved to be a bit of a win for the Cub defense. After all, Franklin came into the game averaging 66.0 points per game in district and had posted 70-plus points in back-to-back victories over Florence and Buffalo. Junior Makail Brandenberger led the Cubs with seven tackles, followed by Finney with six and senior Sergio Garcia with five.

“Again, there were some moments where we did good things, but you have to be able to do them consistently to be able to stop them,” Caniford said. “Their backs are good enough that if you don’t do everything right, they can take it to the house on any play.”

Against a Franklin team that had only given up 8.2 points per game in five district contests, the Cubs (1-4, 1-8) were unable to get on the scoreboard while managing only 145 total yards of offense. Although senior JP Gardner broke off a 50-yard run for Clifton’s big play of the game, the Lions shut down the Cub running game powered by senior Will Simmons and junior Riley Finney.

“Their defense is extremely fast, and they do a good job with pursuit,” Caniford said. “There were many times where we got the point of attack blocked and it looked like we had a change to make a big play, but the backside pursuit go to us. 

“They also do a great job up front of getting off blocks and getting in the fight. Much like defensively, there were times that we did some good things, but you have to be able to do them on every play to compete with them.”

With Franklin, Rogers (4-1, 6-3) and Lexington (3-2, 5-4) having already secured postseason berths, the Cubs turn their attention to the battle for fourth place and the final spot in the playoffs out of District 13-3A, DII. Clifton wraps up the regular season by hosting the Lexington Eagles as four teams – Riesel (2-3, 4-4), Florence (1-4, 4-5), Buffalo (1-4, 2-7) and Clifton – remain in the hunt.

Lexington will be riding a two-game win streak into the District 13-3A, DII finale against the Cubs. Since losing to Rogers, 43-41, in double overtime, the Eagles have knocked off Florence, 47-10, and Buffalo, 59-41, to clinch the third place playoff berth.

“Lexington does a great job of spreading the ball around on offense,” Caniford said. “They have a four-year starter at quarterback who knows their offense inside and out and can make plays with his arm or his legs. We have to do a great job of tackling in space. 

“Defensively, they are going to attack up front and play man in the back end. We have to do a great job getting them on the ground, and we have to get downhill with our backs. When we have opportunities to make plays in the passing game, we have to convert on those opportunities.”

If the Cubs can beat Lexington, and Buffalo knocks off Riesel, it will create a three-way tie for fourth place.

“The post-season picture is as clear as mud,” Caniford said. “There are about five different scenarios, but none of them matter if we don’t beat Lexington. That’s our approach this week. The only thing that we can control is our effort on Friday night. We have no control over what happens in the other games, so we can’t waste time or energy worrying about that. We just need to find a way to win and see what shakes out.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GLIMPSE OF THE SUMMIT

in Volleyball

Despite taking steps in the right direction, Meridian Lady Jackets ousted from Class 2A volleyball playoffs by top-ranked Crawford Lady Pirates in Bi-District matchup

VALLEY MILLS – In a season that produced marked improvement for the Meridian Lady Jacket volleyball program, the Lady Jackets got a glimpse of the summit, witnessing firsthand just how far they have to go to compete among Class 2A’s best in the state.

Facing the Class 2A’s top-ranked and defending state champion Crawford Lady Pirates in a Bi-District playoff matchup Monday in Valley Mills, the Lady Jackets were ousted from the postseason tournament in decisive fashion as the Lady Pirates swept Meridian, 25-0, 25-2, 25-8.

“Last night was a tough loss,” Meridian volleyball first-year head coach Lauren Cartwright said. “Going into the game, we had a realistic perspective. When you play the No. 1 seed in the state as a second-year program, you have to approach the game from a different perspective. Our team developed goals for each set to focus on for motivation and success in their own way.”

Crawford senior McKenna Post pounded the Lady Jackets with 16 service aces, while senior Katie Warden smashed seven kills to lead the Lady Pirates (38-6) past the first round of the playoffs.

“I’m proud of our girls for the tenacity they showed last night and throughout the season,” Cartwright said. “We wish the very best to Crawford as they continue their post-season journey and head to state playoffs.”

Qualifying for the Class 2A postseason for the second straight season after rebooting the volleyball program in 2020, the Meridian Lady Jackets took the next step in re-establishing its program to past glory in 2021. Wrapping up the District 11-2A regular season Oct. 23, the Lady Jackets (3-9 in district, 6-18 overall) snapped a five-match losing streak to knock off the Bluff Dale Lady Bobcats for the second time this season, 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, and secure a spot in the Class 2A playoffs.

“I am beyond proud of our girls,” Meridian volleyball first-year head coach Lauren Cartwright said. “They have overcome so much this season. We have heard comments from other teams about their vast improvement, even the officials are impressed with all they have learned and been able to accomplish in such a short time.”

But for the young and inexperienced Lady Jacket squad, it wasn’t easy along the way.

Before losing to playoff-bound Tolar in straight sets last Tuesday to close out the regyular season, Meridian honored the seniors prior to the Three Way rematch at Yellowjacket Gymnasium Oct. 12. The Lady Jackets split the first two sets with Three Way before coming up just short in the third and ultimately succumbing to the Lady Indians in four, 25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15. In the process, Three Way avenged a heartbreaking five-set loss to the Lady Jackets in the first round of district. Then on Oct. 16, the playoff-bound Hico Lady Tigers swept past the Lady Jackets, 25-10, 25-15, 25-16.

“Moving forward, our focus is finish strong,” Cartwright said. “We began our season, eager to play and students came with a competitive nature we hadn’t seen in our program before. Winning three scrimmages straight out of the gate was a huge confidence booster and proved to the girls they are capable of more than they realize.”

Opening 2021 with a new head coach, the Meridian volleyball program embarked on its second season since rebooting the sport following a 41-year hiatus.

Although the Lady Jackets own a long history of playing volleyball, the program was initially dropped following the 1973-74 school year. Meridian reinstated volleyball for the 1978-79 school year, but promptly dropped it again the following season. Prior to the 2020 season, MISD athletic director Wade Morton and MISD superintendent Kim Edwards locked in and decided to bring volleyball back.

“This season has been one of incredible growth,” Cartwright said. “We started the year with some players who couldn’t serve, players who had never hit a volleyball. And for others, it was their first year in high school athletics. Both our junior varsity and varsity teams worked hard throughout the season to place the “We” before the “Me” each and every day.

“As we look to the season ahead, I am hopeful that we will continue to grow and come back even stronger next year. At the end of the day, it’s about more than one sport or one team, it’s about being a Meridian Lady Jacket.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Go to Top