In college football, at the midway point of the season, a lot of the big rivalry games are taking place. There’s the Red River Shootout from last weekend between Texas and Oklahoma, or the ever patriotic Army-Navy game.
Penn State has rivalries of their own, such as the battle for the Land Grant Trophy with Michigan State, or their cross-state games with Ohio State. In any case, rivalries are big in football.
That is also the case when it comes to the prep front as the local high schools have games that have long been big rivalries. For the Clearfield Bisons, their Homecoming game this Friday night is going to be no easy task. Their opposition when they take the field will be their long-time, cross-county rival, the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties.
Last season, the Mounties also made the trip to Clearfield to face the Bisons, but it was during the second week of the season. That night, as the nation honored the eighth anniversary of the terror attacks in New York, Washington, and in Somerset County, the Bisons made the home crowd very happy as they beat P-O, 35-19.
This year, the game is the beginning of the second half of the season. One team is trying to remain unblemished on the year, while another is hoping to pull the ultimate upset.
P-O is coming off their second win of the season as they up-ended Penns Valley, 36-12.
Head coach Jeff Vroman has this team doing very well this year despite their 2-3 record. The ground game for the Mounties has been excellent through the first half of the year. Five different players have scored a rushing touchdown this year. But, there are three players in particular that need to have a big game if P-O wants to pull off the victory.
First, look at quarterback Mike Marcinko. He is a huge threat in both the passing game and in the running game. On the ground, Marcinko averages almost five yards a carry, and has three touchdowns thus far this year.
When he decides to pass the ball, Marcinko has been good, but not great. The junior quarterback has completed almost 60 percent of his passes for 612 yards and five touchdowns. But, the big thing in his passing is that he has thrown seven interceptions.
That could be a difference maker as last week, Clearfield forced six turnovers. Another game like that, and Clearfield is once again in the win column.
The other two players P-O will need to have big nights are Reggie Coval and Cody Curtis. Coval has 328 yards thus far and three touchdowns, while Curtis has 253 yards and two scores. Both will have to be huge in order to break down the Bison defense.
However, the no-huddle, fast pace Clearfield offense has shown in the last few weeks they can be as much of a threat on the ground as they can be through the air. Last Friday, the Bisons scored six rushing touchdowns, four of which came from quarterback Curtis Frye. It is the second week in a row where the Bison ground attack was more effective than the passing.
It certainly helped when the defense forced six turnovers, which made it easy for Clearfield to run up the scoreboard.
But, this Bison team is not one-dimensional. All year, the passing game has been exactly what got them to their 5-0 record. Frye is averaging 153 yards passing per game, but don’t let that statistic fool anyone. It is down because of the last two weeks. Frye still has six passing touchdowns, while only throwing two interceptions.
At the same time, the run attack has been superb to say the least for Clearfield. Derek Morgan and Beau Swales have provided an excellent 1-2 punch for the Bisons, as they have combined for 820 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
That combination has opened up the passing game for Clearfield, and it shows in that five receivers have at least 80 yards receiving on the year. The biggest receiver this season has been Derek Danver. Thus far, he has 19 receptions, 276 yards, and all six of the Bison receiving touchdowns.
The passing game for Clearfield this week could be the difference, as even though they have a great ground game, if they are able to pass the ball, victory won’t be far away.
It is Homecoming on Friday night at the Bison Sports Complex. The weather throughout the day is going to be bright, sunny, and extremely comfortable. By the beginning of the festivities, temperatures will be in the 50s, with lows getting to the middle 40s.
Bring the blankets, bring the sweatshirts, and get ready for one of the best rivalries in Central Pennsylvania to kickoff beginning at 7 p.m.