Football: Clifton Lozano carrying on family tradition

October 10, 2013 

Chiawana's Clifton Lozano

Chiawana's Clifton Lozano (1) follows the block of teammate Braylon Hanson (51) during a game Richland Friday Sept. 20 at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco. Lozano rushed for 298 yards last week.

PAUL T. ERICKSON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The last time a Lozano wore No. 1 for a Steve Graff-coached team, he ended his career holding up a state title trophy in the Tacoma Dome.

Chiawana running back Clifton Lozano hopes to do the same as his uncle, Rocky, and cap a perfect season in Tacoma in December. If Clifton keeps running like he did last week, there is a distinct possibility of that happening.

The senior 5-foot-7, 180-pound runner had 298 yards on 32 carries and scored three touchdowns in a 48-7 win over Wenatchee. The yards pushed him to the top of the heap in the Mid-Columbia Conference.

“I had a chip on my shoulder,” Lozano said of his big week, referencing Wenatchee running back Isaiah Brandt-Sims. “I do track to, and (Brandt-Sims) is a fast kid. I finally got to meet him at my own sport and show who I am out there.”

Lozano is a good combination of speed and power for the Riverhawks. Since transferring to Chiawana from Pasco High before his junior season, he has improved in the weight room and on the field thanks to a higher level of competition pushing him.

When he first came to the Riverhawks, he did a lot more dancing rather than just hitting holes and following his blockers.

“He has learned to run behind our offensive line and how that works,” Chiawana offensive coordinator Dave Spray said. “It takes more reps, the more repetitions they get, the better they get.”

Lozano will lead the Riverhawks into action at 7 p.m. today, hosting Kamiakin at Edgar Brown Stadium.

Lozano began playing football as a youngster in Grid Kids. He follows his dad, Clifton, and his uncle Rocky in playing for Graff.

The younger Clifton started his career at Pasco High, wanting to follow in the family footsteps, but at the urging of his uncle he switched to Chiawana.

“He wanted to play for purple, but I told him it wasn’t about the color, it was about where you would get the best training,” Rocky said. “I told him if he wanted to be the best, he had to go to Coach Graff.”

The decision wasn’t easy for Clifton, though, as he was leaving friends behind.

“I got a lot of stuff for it,” he said. “All my friends talked crap to me, called me a traitor, all that. But if I wanted to win I had to come to Chiawana.”

The Riverhawks didn’t win quite as much as expected in 2012, finishing 6-4, but they gained valuable experience and are steamrolling everyone in their way this season.

A big part of that has been the play of Lozano and the rest of the offense, which has weapons at nearly every position, including another running back — Austin Urlacher — who missed the first four weeks with an injury.

“Both are great, great threats,” Chiawana offensive lineman Mark DeRuyter said. “I think those two are the best backs in the league, without a doubt.

“Clifton has really good instincts for the game. He knows what to do. He has natural talent.”

That natural talent runs in the family and if Lozano and the Riverhawks play their cards right, a state title could run in the family as well.

The 2000 team went undefeated and was loaded at nearly every position. The 2013 squad is unbeaten right now, and seems to have weapons all over the field.

“They are good,” Rocky said. “But if you put them up against us, we’d punch them in the mouth pretty good. We had an awesome team.”

This year’s squad, led by Clifton’s strong running, is in the conversation though.

“I don’t know yet,” Spray said of how the teams compare. “We’ll have to see how it ends.”

Lozano hopes it ends with him holding a state title trophy on the floor of the Dome.

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