Returning to the Class 3A, DII state football playoffs for first time in three years, Clifton Cubs earn all-district accolades placing five players on the District 13-3A, DII first-team
After earning their first trip to the Class 3A, Division II football state playoffs in three years, the Clifton Cubs felt like they were back where they belonged. And by doing so, they are now reaping the benefits.
With junior running back and linebacker Riley Finney leading the way, the Cubs placed five players on the District 13-3A, DII all-district, first-team, including junior running back Parker Tunnell, senior offensive lineman Caden Page, senior defensive lineman A.J. Lingo and senior defensive back Carter Tunnell. Finney was named to both the offensive and defense all-district, first teams.
“These guys got Cub football back in the playoffs,” Clifton first-year head coach Brent Finney said. “And they leave that expectation with the 21 returners who got to experience it.”
Seniors dominated Clifton’s five all-district, second-team selections led by senior offensive lineman and linebacker Peyten Urbanovsky being picked on both sides of the ball, along with senior tight end Jordan Enriquez, senior defensive back Larrett Thomas, senior defensive lineman Makail Brandenberger and junior wide receiver Andres Devora, who also earned honorable mention at defensive back.
Other Cub honorable mention selections included senior quarterback Trent Guinn, senior wide receiver Jayden Simmons, junior offensive lineman Bryan Ramirez, junior defensive lineman Levi Knox and junior defensive Ervin Rodriguez.
“Having 14 seniors was huge for us this season,” Finney said. “Seniors provide experience and leadership that is invaluable to a team. Without those guys staying for all four years, you sometimes have to move younger kids up for depth and injury reasons.
“We will definitely have a hard time replacing these guys next year. Especially up front where three of the five linemen and tight end offensively, and two of the three defensive linemen were seniors.”
Among the first-team selections, Finney led the Cubs offensively with 962 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns while leading the Clifton defense with 108 tackles. Parker Tunnell rushed for 801 yards and a score while catching nine passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Carter Tunnell contributed 69 tackles and three interceptions, while Lingo led the Cubs with four sacks and 25 tackles.
Peyten Urbanovsky ranked second on the team in tackles with 73 to lead the second-teamers, Devora led the Cubs with 21 receptions for 349 yards and three touchdowns, Thomas contributed 67 tackles and two fumble recoveries, while Brandenberger collected 61 tackles and three sacks.
Returning to the playoffs for the first time in three years, the Cubs could not overcome a first half deficit with a strong second half as the District 14-3A, DII champion El Maton Tidehaven Tigers eliminated Clifton, 27-7, in a Bi-District playoff matchup at Bastrop ISD Memorial Stadium.
With representatives from both teams on hand for the ceremonial coin flip, the rematch of the 1967 Class 1A state championship game also offered some nostalgia 55 years in waiting.
“It was really great being back in the playoffs,” Finney said. “As I have said all year, we are very proud of these young men and how they have continued to battle and improve all season. The amount of support from the parents, booster club, fans and community was amazing. We are very blessed to be playing and coaching football here in Clifton.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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