The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

June 7, 2014

Andy Claborn hunts football turnaround at Medford

MEDFORD, Okla. — Andy Claborn, known as a builder of football programs, is taking on yet another project in northwest Oklahoma.

Claborn, who has won more than 240 games as a head coach, has accepted the reins at Medford, which is 1-19 over the last two years.

“They have gone through some hard times, but they still have some good kids up there,’’ Claborn said. “I thought I would give it a shot.’’

The well-traveled Claborn spent last season as an assistant to his son Jon at Waukomis. The one appealing thing about Medford was he wouldn’t have to coach against Jon and it would keep him close to his grandchildren in Enid.

“It’s tough to leave Waukomis,’’ the elder Claborn said. “Those kids and I really jelled in one year. They were sad to see me go, but they understood I was leaving to be a head coach. I’ve been blessed to have good relationships with my players. They have some good kids there. If they’re healthy, they can be in the 3-4 range in District B-1.’’

Taking the Medford job means Claborn now has the distinction of coaching at all the football-playing schools in Grant County.

He coached at Deer Creek-Lamont in 1977 and at Pond Creek-Hunter from 1992-96.

He also had stops in the area at Helena-Goltry (1980-81), Mooreland (1984), Freedom (1985-86), Cherokee (1997-98), Buffalo (2000-01) and Seiling (2008-12).

“You don’t have enough space to list all the schools I’ve been to,’’ Claborn said. “Northwest Oklahoma is a pretty good place. There’s a lot of good, quality, hard-working people.’’

Claborn has enjoyed the challenge of building programs. He has had a winning record, or was at least .500, at every school he’s been to in the area.

He jokes grandparents and parents may be more familiar with him than the current players.

“They haven’t experienced a lot of winning in the last four or five years (at Medford),’’ Claborn said, “but they have a lot of tradition. I hope we can get back to some semblance of what they had in the past.’’

Claborn plans a meeting with his new team soon. He will send out a letters to all male students in grades 7-12 asking them to come out for the team.

Medford had only 17 players out from a possible talent pool of 37 male students last season. Claborn is hoping he can get that to at least the mid-20s.

The Cardinals were 0-10 last season with only three seniors on the roster.

“They’ve got something to work with,’’ Claborn said. “We need to get them to get some practice habits and go to work to become better. It’s easier to go up where they are now. At this level, if you work hard and do things right, you have a chance in a lot of games.’’

Medford will at least have the advantage of moving down a class from a brutal B-1 schedule.

The Cardinals had some speed last season. Claborn said he’s flexible enough to run any offense or defense that best fits Medford’s talent.

“You got to work with what you have,’’ Claborn said. “You can’t recruit a quarterback who can throw or run. I’m a firm believer in working around what you have.’’

Claborn, a 37-year coaching veteran, feels he’s mellowed some over the years.

“As you get older, you learn what’s really important,’’ he said. “There are some battles that aren’t worth fighting over. You find what’s important to you and your program and you stick up more for that than anything else.’’

He said he’s become “a better teacher,’’ over the years.

“After 37 years, you’re bound to learn something,’’ Claborn said.

Claborn has unretired more than Brett Favre.

“I don’t play golf and I don’t hunt or fish,’’ he said. “Football has been as much a hobby to me as anything I’ve done. My wife said 20 years ago I needed a hobby, but I didn’t listen to her. My health is good and I enjoy what I’m doing.’’

I guess God wanted me to be a coach, I guess. He’s provided opportunities for me to do that.’’

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