Owen Clifton has stepped down as head boys basketball coach at Glen Rose High School. Glen Rose Athletic Director Cliff Watkins told the Glen Rose Reporter on Thursday morning that Clifton had notified him of his decision just before spring break.

Clifton told the Glen Rose Reporter that after he and his wife’s son, Carter, was diagnosed as having autism two years ago, he had told Watkins that he was interested in stepping away from the basketball position. Carter is now 6, and they also have a 4-year-old old daughter, Landyn.

“It was a difficult decision because I love the kids, but the good news is that I’m still going to be here. We’re starting a special needs ministry at our church (First Baptist in Glen Rose),” said Clifton, who graduated from Hardin-Simmons University with a degree in church ministry. “I’m excited. It should be great.”

The 36-year-old Clifton will continue as the school’s girls and boys golf coach, as well as with his classroom duties in Advanced Placement government, economics and world history.

“It’s just that an opportunity came up to be more of a full-time teacher, and that’s something he had mentioned before that he wanted to do. He wants to spend more time with his family,” Watkins said. “We appreciate everything he did for the Tigers program, and we are glad that he will still be a part of the Glen Rose Tigers.”

Watkins said that an announcement of a new head boys basketball coach will come soon.

“We have had a bunch of very highly qualified applicants,” Watkins said. “A lot of people want to be part of the program, and we are optimistic we will be able to get a great coach and person to join our program.”

The Tigers earned second place in the five-team District 7-4A alignment for the 2019-2020 season with a 5-3 mark, behind Brownwood. They finished with an 18-19 overall record, when they lost to Krum, 66-53, on Feb. 24 in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

Clifton is a native of Bryan who graduated from La Grange High School before going to Hardin-Simmons. He lived in Bryan until age 13.

Cllifton came to Glen Rose after his previous three-year basketball coaching stint in Grapeland. He coached at Hyde Park, a private school in Austin, for five seasons. He took the Grapeland job after coaching at Wortham for one year.

Clifton said that their son is doing “fantastic,” and noted that the school district does a great job in working with special needs students.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” Clifton said. “It’s something I never saw coming, but the school district has been great.”