NEW PLAN OF ATTACK

in Football

Clifton’s new head coach Brent Finney gives Cubs a change of pace with a new approach and new playbook, host Whitney for final scrimmage Thursday

CLIFTON – Sporting a new look and a new head coach, the Class 3A, Division II took on an old rival in the Class 3A, DI West Trojans for their first scrimmage of the 2022 Texas high school football season last Friday night at Cub Stadium.

After winning District 7-3A, DI with an undefeated record in 2021, the West Trojans advanced to the regional finals with a perfect 13-0 record before being eliminated. Entering 2022 as Class 3A, DI’s 10th-ranked squad, West hopes to build on its school record-setting effort last season.

But if Friday’s scrimmage can serve as an indicator, Clifton’s first-year head coach Brent Finney and the Cubs could be on the brink of contending after coming off back-to-back seasons without a postseason berth.

Clifton will spend the week preparing for its second scrimmage as the Cubs play host to another traditional rival in the Whitney Wildcats at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at Cub Stadium. After missing the postseason in 2020, the Wildcats bounced back to win a playoff game last season. Playing in District 7-3A, DI, Whitney hopes to challenge the sixth-ranked Grandview Zebras and West for the district title.

“Overall, we were pretty happy with our West scrimmage,” Finney said. “After a few plays to acclimate to game speed, I thought we settled down and held our own.”

Indeed, they did. Deploying a Wing-T offensive attack that utilizes misdirection, fake handoffs and down blocking, the Cubs showed flashes of things to come with quick hitting gains and a few big plays.

“Offensively, we saw some good things,” Finney said. “We still have to fix a few assignments up front, and some timing issues in the passing game. But we were very happy with our ability to move the ball consistently, and it is always good to be able to hit a few big plays.”

With six offensive starters back among 18 returning lettermen, the Trojans returns a powerful, physical ground game, led by running back Terry McCutcheon, who rushed for 1,379 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2021. But the aggressive, hard-hitting Cub defense kept West bottled up most of the scrimmage.

“Defensively, we were very excited about how hard and physical we played,” Finney said. “We still have some adjusting to do and alignment things to fix. But overall, it was very positive.”

In 2022, the Cubs will be navigating a new District 13-3A, DII following the 2022-24 UIL realignment featuring a tough lineup of district opponents – 16th-ranked Lexington, 22nd-ranked Rogers, Buffalo, Elkhart and Florence in the six-team league.

Entering his 27th year as a high school coach, Finney relishes getting his first football head coaching and athletic director opportunity at his high school alma mater as he graduated from Clifton High School in 1991 before graduating from Tarleton in 1996. Coming back home 18 years ago as an assistant coach, Finney spent the last eight seasons under former head coach Chuck Caniford as the Cubs advanced to the playoffs six times, winning three district championships.

“Clifton is a very important part of our lives and the lives of our families,” Finney said. “This was a great opportunity to continue to serve the kids of our community and give back to the community that has done so much for us.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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