in Football

Coming off dominating performance against Rio Vista on Homecoming Night, the Class 3A, DII Clifton Cubs hit the road to take on traditionally-tough Bosqueville

Refusing to allow the Homecoming 2023 festivities all week long to become a distraction, the Clifton Cubs remained focused on preparing for the job at hand. And once the Cubs kicked off the highly-anticipated game, the celebrating began early and culminated with the traditional ringing of the bell.

Powered by a dominating defensive performance from start to finish, Clifton mauled the Rio Vista Eagles, 33-0, Friday night to the delight of the beyond-capacity, jam-packed crowd at Cub Stadium.  With senior wide receiver Andres Devora catching two touchdown passes, the Cubs took control of the game on the scoreboard early, and the Clifton defense never let the Eagle spread offensive attack take flight.

“We were very happy with the way our kids responded,” said Clifton head coach Brent Finney as the Cubs put their season-opening 26-14 loss to Merkel behind them. “We challenged them this week after the loss to Merkel.

“We really wanted to start fast and play with high energy from the beginning. We also wanted to reduce our penalties and get off the field when we had third down situations defensively. They really did a nice job of getting out of the gate fast and played hard all night.”

This week, the Cubs (1-1) will embark on the first of three straight road games, travelling to Bosqueville to take on the perennial tough Bulldogs (0-2) at 7 :30 p.m. Friday. Bosqueville goes into the game having lost back-to-back shutout games to Chilton, 34-0, and Hamilton, 55-0, but the Bulldogs entered the season expected to challenge for a playoff spot in District 8-2A, DI.

“Bosqueville will be another challenging game for us,” Finney said. “They are a well-coached team. They will be very dynamic on offense, spreading the ball around like the last couple teams. So, we will have to tackle well and play well in space again. They will also be very aggressive and attacking on defense.”

 Against Rio Vista, the Clifton defense did the attacking. Limiting the Eagles to only 79 yards of total offense, the Cub defense shut down all aspects of the Rio Vista offensive attack the entire game, making plays in the backfield, pressuring the pass and swarming the ball.

With Clifton grounding the passing game, freshmen quarterbacks Kaiden Scott and Tate Conley combined to complete only six of 19 passes for 53 yards with an interception. In the meantime, the Rio Vista running game could not get past the line of scrimmage, gaining a measly 26 yards on 23 attempts.

“The defense played great all night, constantly setting up the offense with great field position,” Finney said. “We played on the Rio side of the field almost the entire game. Our tackling was a lot better than last week as well.”

Although only compiling 256 yards of total offense, the Cubs controlled the ball on the ground the entire game, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, while mixing in the pass effectively. Senior running Parker Tunnell and senior fullback Riley Finney both scored rushing touchdowns, as Tunnell led the ground game with 65 yards on 10 carries.

Through the air, junior quarterback Joaquin De La Hoya completed four of nine passes for 77 yards, connecting with Devora all four times, while De La Hoya scrambled for another 61 yards on nine attempts.

In addition to catching two scoring strikes, Devora also went a perfect four-for-four in kicking points after touchdowns, nailed a 30-yard field goal and pulled down a second half interception that led to a score.

“We still have things we need to work on, but are very proud of our team and how they stepped up,” Finney said. “We have to keep improving in the passing game and in the red zone. But we were able to get some key completions and touchdowns Friday night through the air.”


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