FARSON — For the first 10 years of Clancy Gines’ life, his home of the Farson-Eden valley didn’t have football. That never stopped him from liking the rough yet rewarding sport that would become such a big part of his identity.
Eight years later, Clancy is now 1A six-man Defensive Player of the Year, three-time all-state selection, to go along with MVP of the 2018 state championship game. Although his high school career is officially over, the Farson-Eden High School senior is far from ending his career on the football field.
Clancy made the next step on National Signing Day when the entire FEHS football team was on site Wednesday morning to watch him sign his letter of intent. Once he put pen to paper, he officially became the next football player to join the Chadron State College Eagles and the first six-man Pronghorn to sign with a college football team.
PATH TO GREATNESS
Growing up watching football with his father, Travis Gines, Clancy always felt a natural attraction to football, but he didn’t take his first step onto the field until he was in grade school. One of his wrestling coaches suggested Clancy would make a strong football player, which turned out to be the perfect advice.
“I’ve been playing football since I was in fourth grade … and I just fell in love with it. It’s just been a part of me for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I just knew I liked it … I fell in love with winning and competing.”
Clancy, along with classmates Lain Mitchelson and Cortland Barker, and several other Farson kids all started playing Young American Football League in Rock Springs. Little did anyone know then, it was the start to a special future for the group.
Around that time, Farson-Eden High School was adding six-man football, which opened new doors to Clancy and his teammates.
“Basketball was the only thing in Farson for awhile,” he said. “Me, Lain, Cortland, and Colby and Carson (Jones) were never on the same team in Rock Springs, but we all finally got to play together.”
In sixth grade, Clancy was spending half his practice hours with YAFL and half with the Farson-Eden Middle School team. By the time he hit the high school ranks, he was already becoming a well-rounded athlete.
You need more than that to become a great football player, though, and FEHS head coach Trip Applequist had a front-row seat for Clancy’s progression.
“As a freshman he had pretty good size and was pretty athletic,” Applequist said. “The biggest thing for me, though, was watching how he learned the game – how he learned to make reads. His development, in terms of learning the game, was great. He of course got bigger and stronger, too.”
Pretty soon Clancy was turning heads around the state, earning all-conference recognition after his first year of high school. The following season, the Pronghorns shocked Wyoming and advanced all the way to the state championship.
Although they didn’t win it that year, it was an eye opener for a team that was starting to find its identity.
“Our sophomore year, when this group of seniors went to state, we realized we could do something with the program,” Clancy said.
They were definitely onto something, and after one more failed attempt in the state championship, Clancy and his teammates returned to the promised land his senior year for the third-straight time.
It was the perfect season, as the Pronghorns went 10-0 to reach War Memorial Stadium, while Clancy racked up recognition. He ended up winning Defensive Player of the Year, but more importantly he was named MVP for the title game after sparking the Pronghorns to victory.
He scored three long touchdowns on his first three touches of the game, which propelled FEHS to its first state championship in school history.
“I felt like that was the high school peak. It was our goal for four years,” he said. “(Signing) was the cherry on the cake.”
Although Clancy looked to be a star in the making during his freshman and sophomore years, already with all-conference and all-state selections, college football didn’t become a reality until after his junior year.
He was fresh off his second-straight all-state selection, and college teams had started noticing. He had already done some ground work with Chadron, going to its camp for the previous three years, but several other schools were interested.
Clancy also received offers from Minot State, Dickinson State, and Western Colorado University, along with some interest shown by the University of Wyoming. His dream of playing college football was becoming a reality, but the pressure of the decision started to mount.
“I was stressed for about four months straight. I had coaches calling me last June asking me to come to camps,” he said. “It’s a business, and it’s hard to decide where you want to go. It’s more stressful than I thought it would ever be.”
Clancy relieved some of the stress when he returned to the field his senior season, as the Pronghorns marched their way to their first state championship. However, on the day that should have been one the happiest of his life, his future was thrust into uncertainty during the first half of the title game.
After scoring long touchdowns on each of his first three runs of the game, the star senior went down with a scary knee injury. It turned out to be a torn ACL and meniscus, which is something that will scare away college teams.
“When I hurt my knee, I got scared. I got scared I was going to lose all the offers. Honestly, I didn’t know what was going to come of it,” he said.
That didn’t happen, though. Minot State, Dickinson State, Western Colorado University and Chadron State still wanted him, leaving the door to college football open. Clancy started going on visits following the season, but there was only one that felt right.
“I know a lot of people (at Chadron), and I’ve been around the coaches for the last three years at camp. I just felt like it was the right fit,” he said. “I had a couple offers … they were a long ways away and I felt comfortable with Chadron so that’s what I stuck with.”
Once the long process was finally over, the relief kicked in for Clancy after being “tired of losing sleep and stressing over it.” He still has a long way to go before he will take the field in an Eagles jersey, though.
Clancy said that he is already up to 50 percent after the knee injury in November, but also said that Chadron is planning on redshirting him as a freshman. That may not be the worst thing, though, because he knows there are some areas that still need work.
“I’m going to have to get really big,” Clancy said with a laugh. “To play linebacker or defensive end, I’m going to be really small for college. I’m also going to be slow, because I tore my ACL. I’ll need to work on my speed and get my agility back and then put some weight on me.”
He doesn’t think there is any reason that he won’t return as the same player before injury and is already planning on playing in the Shrine Bowl this summer.
Apart from returning to health, another big adjustment for Clancy will be switching from someone who plays both sides of the ball and all over the field, to a new specialized position of linebacker or defensive end.
“It’ll be different and new, coming from six-man where you play everything. I’m excited to just focus on school and one position mainly,” he said.