Clancy started playing football in fifth grade for the Newburyport Youth B team. He was a quarterback from the beginning, which at the youth level, meant taking snaps, turning around and handing the ball to a running back.
“I guess you could say it came easy because it was easy,” Clancy said. “When I struggled is when I got to high school and started throwing the ball more. I had struggles as a sophomore when the game became more complex.”
Clancy showed enough promise as a sophomore that he took over as the varsity starting quarterback at the tail end of a losing season. If ever there was a game that might shatter the confidence of a young quarterback, it was Clancy’s Thanksgiving Day performance. In a 20-0 loss to Amesbury, he completed just one pass and was intercepted four times.
“Obviously it’s hard to struggle,” Clancy said. “You can feel somewhat helpless. It’s not something that shakes my confidence. The fact is that the Newburyport coaches gave me that responsibility at a young age. That gave me confidence to keep working on my game.”
Becoming a Clipper legend
Heading into Clancy’s junior season, Newburyport’s coaching staff designed a wide-open passing attack that played to the 6-foot-3 quarterback’s strengths. The team’s best skill position players were moved from the backfield to the perimeter. Over the next two seasons, Clancy broke Newburyport’s program records for career completions, attempts, yardage and touchdowns.
The one thing lacking from Clancy’s high school resume is a Cape Ann League title or playoff appearance. During his junior year, the Clippers were in the driver’s seat for a CAL Small title heading into the Thanksgiving game. However, in the final quarter of the final game before Thanksgiving against Lynnfield, Clancy exchanged shoves with a Lynnfield linebacker after a late hit, and both players were ejected. By MIAA rule, Clancy was ineligible to play on Thanksgiving, and Newburyport lost to Amesbury.