The first three weeks have not been a cake walk for Tim Janocko’s 2010 Clearfield Bison squad, but his team sure has made it seem that way. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Bisons have outscored their opponents 126-35, which has enabled them to have an unbeaten record.
But, this Friday night it appears to be the first true test for Clearfield. The opposition this week is the also undefeated Indian Valley Warriors.
To say this game is a true test to see how good the Bisons are this year is a mild understatement, but they are going against a team that has also outscored their opponents 115-59. However, it could just as easily have been the undefeated Bisons against the one-loss Warriors.
Last week, Indian Valley sneaked past Bald Eagle Area, 26-22. The Eagles had the lead late, but it was a deep pass from quarterback Cody Heane to Mitch Fultz that was the difference.
If Clearfield wants to maintain their undefeated record, those are the two players that will have to be their main focus. Heane is rolling with a 113-passer rating, as he’s completed 70 percent of his passes thus far this season. He only has 388 yards passing, but he has been extremely smart in his passes. Only averaging three incomplete passes a game, Heane is dangerous through the air.
Meanwhile, Fultz is a dual-threat in the Warrior’s offensive scheme. When the ball is on the ground, he averages nearly eight yards per carry. Through three games, Fultz has 551 yards rushing including five touchdowns. The next two closest backs on the team, David Yale and Zach Hassinger, have a combined 284 yards rushing.
Fultz is also the top receiver on the team with 131 receiving yards on six receptions, including his touchdown last week.
For Clearfield to win, they have to shut down this dynamic combination. At the same time, they have to continue to establish their own passing and running attack to wear down the Warrior defense.
In this battle of offensive powerhouses, Curtis Frye is a great match against Heane. His statistics are almost a mirror image to Heane, as he also has completed 70 percent of his passes. However, Frye has a slightly higher passer rating, 125, and has five touchdown passes, compared to the four of Heane. Most importantly, Frye has been able to only get one interception through the first three games, whereas Heane has three.
The big difference in the two passing games is that Frye has many weapons to go to. Yes, his favorite target has been Derek Danver, as he has 16 catches for 243 yards and has accounted for all five receiving touchdowns.
However, watch for Jack Mellgard, Derek Morgan and Andrew Redden to be a huge part of the passing game as well. Frye is not afraid to spread the ball out, and that has been great thus far in Clearfield’s season.
The run game, Morgan and Beau Swales will have to dig their cleats in deep to get the tough yardage against the Warrior defense. Morgan has five rushing touchdowns and Swales has four to his credit.
The yards on the ground could be the big difference as the Bison offense has a duel-threat in their run game. Watch for Clearfield to use that to their advantage.
If an offensive-dominated game is what the fans want, this game is surely going to live up to that expectation. One team is going to fall with their first loss of the season, but in doing so it will be in spectacular fashion.
Kickoff at Mitchell Field in Lewistown is set for 7 p.m. Friday night.