One game, one opportunity, one victory. After 10 grueling weeks of football, two teams are now ready to collide to decide a champion. The unfortunate part in this Friday night’s game between the Punxsutawney Chucks and the Clearfield Bisons is one team will suffer their first loss of the season.
Both the Chucks and the Bisons enter this game at 10-0, a feat neither team came close to last year. At the same time, this game is a mirror image of the 2009 season.
Last year, these two teams battled through 48 minutes of incredible football that saw Punxsutawney score the last touchdown with 1:41 left in the game to get a 34-28 lead.
Clearfield came right back and ran the length of the field, only to have Trey Campman get a hard hit near the goal line following Curtis Frye’s pass that caused the ball to come free. It would be the way the Bisons’ season would end, one catch short.
This game could come down to that kind of drive again this year. These two teams are extremely close in statistics, ability, and any other aspect that can be thought of in football. That is if you are talking offense. Defensively, this game could be extremely intriguing.
In the entire 10-week season, the Chucks have shut out four of their opponents, and only one has been able to score more than one touchdown in a game. The Punxsutawney defense only allowed 39 points all season, meaning Clearfield will have to come out on fire to put the Chucks on their heels.
Punxsutawney is a team that is extremely explosive on offense. With an average of 120 yards through the air and nearly 190 on the ground per game, it’s a tough task for any team to stop them from scoring.
In the passing game, quarterback Logan Weaver has been nothing but incredible. With a quarterback rating of 119, he has an arm that is damaging to his opponents. Thus far, Weaver has completed nearly 59 percent of his passes, totaling 1068 yards and 17 touchdowns. He only has two interceptions through the regular season.
A passing game like that also means the receivers are getting a lot of attention.
Five different receivers have scored touchdowns this season, with the most coming from Zak Dickey. He has been the favorite target for Weaver this season as he has 27 receptions for 362 yards, an average of nearly 14 yards per catch. Not to be outdone, Ben Blazavich has even more yards per reception, 15.65, despite only having 17 catches and two touchdowns. Even more impressive, Duell Thompson has the best average yards-per-catch average with 16.25.
This means that the Bison defense will be tested in the secondary, which also means Punxsutawney could open up their running game. That aspect of the Chucks’ game is so vast, it means any back is capable of getting into the end zone.
The top two backs on the Chucks are Blazavich and Jason Fallara. Combined, these two have over 900 yards rushing and have accounted for 15 rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately for Clearfield, those aren’t the only two they must account for in the run game, as Weaver and Glenn Perry have combined for another 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Clearfield will have to keep both of these aspects in order to keep this game close. At the same time, the Chucks need to be aware of the Bisons’ own duel-threat offense.
The Bisons themselves average 141 yards passing and nearly 213 yards rushing each game. This means these two teams are about as even as can be.
For Clearfield, their offense centers around now junior quarterback Frye. He has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1419 yards and 12 touchdowns. Although the passing offense did have some struggles during part of the season, this is the first aspect the Chucks need to focus on as Clearfield’s spread offense has been passing first followed by the run.
The receiving corps for Clearfield has been incredible as eight different players have caught a pass, with six of them finding the end zone. But, the popular receiver this year for Frye has been Derek Danver. With 29 catches and six touchdowns, he has been the go-to receiver all year.
But, in the last few weeks, the receiver that has been coming on strong has been Jack Mellgard. Head coach Tim Janocko called his receiver the “unsung hero” of the team weeks ago, and it’s definitely the case. He averages 12 yards a catch and has two touchdowns, while at the same time he does a lot of blocking for the ground game.
Mellgard could again be a factor on Friday.
At the same time, Clearfield has been outright crazy with their rushing attack. By far, the duo of Derek Morgan and Beau Swales have been hard to contain all season long.
Morgan is the leading rusher with 948 yards on the season and 13 touchdowns. Swales himself has 585 yards and 11 touchdowns to his credit. The two of them have balanced out the Clearfield offense when the passing game was not working. Should both of these two have strong games on the ground, this game will be closer than anyone expected.
The equalizer between both Punxsutawney and Clearfield this week is they are playing in a neutral site, and it’s a field neither has seen all year long. This game will be played at E.J. Mansell Stadium in DuBois, and what is the biggest equalizer is the playing surface. Don’t expect any grass stains this week as this field is all turf. This could make for a fast paced, high scoring game much like it was last season.
One team’s season will come to an end Friday night, while another will continue on for another week in the post season. It is expected to be a glorious night for weather, and the stadium is going to be loud, boisterous and exciting even before the opening kickoff.
Friday night’s action will begin at 7 p.m.