If last Friday night was any indication, this week’s match-up at the Bison Sports Complex will be mighty intriguing. Last week, the two top teams in the Mountain League Alleghany Division each gained victories. With playoffs not far away, week nine in the season presents a game where a lot can be decided.
The Clearfield Bisons find themselves at the top of the division with their 8-0 record, and are coming off a very decisive victory against the Juniata Indians. They are also leading in the Class AAA playoff race, despite having a tie in overall points with Punxsutawney.
However, as head coach Tim Janocko said last week, every week in the season is a big game, especially late in the season.
Clearfield now must come back home to take on a very strong, and very difficult, Bellefonte Raiders team that sits at 6-2. They are currently second in the division, but have a lot to gain on Friday night. More than anything else, the Raiders can make the playoff rankings rather interesting.
In order for Bellefonte to take away a chance for Clearfield to win the division title, they must win. Even with a loss next week and a victory by Clearfield, Bellefonte would hold the tie-breaker.
But, that is not going to be an easy task with how Clearfield has played this season. At 8-0, the Bisons have showed that whether it’s offensive or defensive, they can score.
Last week against the Indians, the highlight was the passing game for the Bisons. Quarterback Curtis Frye had his best game throwing the ball in nearly a month as he went 11 for 16 passing for 207 yards and three touchdowns. The previous three weeks, Frye only completed 12 total passes and only one for a touchdown.
However, when the passing attack was not working, Clearfield had run game that more than made up for the lack of passing. Beau Swales and Derek Morgan have been incredible when the ball has been put in their hands. Combined, the two running backs have ran for over 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. Morgan is just over 200 yards away from a 1,000-yard season. Getting that against Bellefonte will be a tough task, but he is capable of at least getting 100 yards on the ground.
Don’t be surprised if Jack Mellgard comes out with another big game. Janocko last week called him the unsung hero of his team because of all he does for his teammates. Last week he had a breakout game as he scored both a rushing and passing touchdown against Juniata.
The week prior, he had the late interception against Lewistown that helped seal the game for the Bisons. Watch out for him to also have a strong game.
Last week, the Red Raiders gained a win over Central Mountain, a team Clearfield beat soundly in the fifth week of the season.
In week three, the Red Raiders got manhandled by AA powerhouse Tyrone by a score of 42-8. However, it’s their division loss that is the most intriguing because it came against Lewistown, a squad that earlier in the year gave Tyrone all they could handle despite losing, but a few weeks later hung on to beat Bellefonte 13-8.
Bellefonte has a very strong chance in this contest, but for them to have a shot at the division title, they must win. That gives them the tie-breaker over Clearfield, but that is going to be no easy task, especially since the Bisons will be on their home turf.
There is a lot on the line Friday night, and this is expected to be one of the big games of the week. Weather won’t be a factor, at least when it comes to rain or snow. However, the temperature is going to be cold as it is expected to be down close to the freezing mark in the evening. Bring the blankets, the sweatshirts and the gloves because this game is well worth the price of admission.
Kickoff at the Bison Sports Complex is set for 7 p.m.