Going into 2010, everyone in the town of Clearfield knew that their beloved football team would be good. Many believed they would be the best of the league and would return to the glory they had two years ago.
However, this year’s Bison football team has gone beyond what everyone in central Pennsylvania has expected. The Bisons earned their first undefeated season since 2004, and in doing so earned their way to the Class AAA championship for District IX. It gave Clearfield a rematch with Punxsutawney, who defeated Clearfield to earn the title last year.
Not wanting a repeat, the Bisons went all out and brought the title back to Clearfield.
As the playoffs continued, the next target in the team’s sights was Johnstown, one of the toughest teams in the area. But, Clearfield didn’t back down, and used the momentum of four turnovers to gain a spot in the PIAA state playoffs.
Last week was the round of 16, and Clearfield was not letting the fact that it was Black Friday, nor that it was a two-hour drive to the playing field, get in their way. With the opposition being the Shikellamy Braves, Clearfield knew that their opponents were getting tougher, meaning it would be harder to get a victory.
But, true to form, the Bisons overpowered the Braves to a 42-26 victory, moving them to the elite eight in PIAA competition.
Now, the true test has arrived. Clearfield will once again make the journey to Shamokin to play at Kemp Memorial Stadium. This time, the team standing across the field is the Allentown Central Catholic Vikings. This game is the big one for Clearfield as the Vikings are ranked No. 1 in the state. The reason – they are just that good.
ACC has been a scoring machine all season. Its offense averages 40 points a game, and have scored no less than 21 in a game all year.
One big reason is their quarterback, Brenden Nosovitch. He is the first quarterback in PIAA history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in one season. The scary part is Nosovitch is only a junior.
At the same time, his teammates have also been huge on the season.
The Vikings’ top running back other than Nosovitch is Colin McDermont. He has rushed for over 1,200 yards this season, averaging just about 100 yards per game, and has 12 touchdowns.
When it comes to passing, Nosovitch’s favorite target has been Kevin Gulyas, who has 983 yards receiving on 60 catches and 16 touchdowns.
It’s those kind of players that have been able to propel Nosovitch to the great player he has become this year. Even with a year to go of high school, colleges are showing some interest, including the likes of Penn State, Pitt, Nebraska, and others.
If Clearfield wants a chance to win this game, the key thing they must do is hang score-for-score with ACC. If the Bisons are able to do that, this game could be one of the closest of the year.
There is no shortage of talent on the Bisons. Senior running back Derek Morgan has become a very intelligent, very reliable back as the season progressed. His performance against Punxsutawney was evident of his ability on offense and defense, but he will need to have another one of those games against the Vikings to put Clearfield in the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Morgan has 1,332 yards this year on 232 carries, an average of just over 102 yards each week. He has 18 touchdowns thus far on the ground, but has been extremely reliable in the passing game as well. He has 232 yards receiving with two scores, and also did a little trickery last week as he threw a touchdown pass as well.
For the entire season, the lead passer has been junior quarterback Curtis Frye. He has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes (101 of 185) and has 1,714 yards through the air with 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions.
The key thing with the Bisons in the receiving area is that not one player has stood out more than the other. Brandon Hogue, Derek Danver, Andrew Redden, Beau Swales, and others have caught passes this season. It shows that Clearfield doesn’t want the opposing secondary to focus on just one player. That plays right into Clearfield’s hands, which could be huge if it works on Friday night.
Clearfield’s season is on the line Friday. It could be the end of the most successful Bison football team in school history, or it could be the biggest upset in the tournament.
Two undefeated teams will face each other. The Vikings are top-ranked in the state, while Clearfield is close at No. 5. One team will remain unblemished and move one step closer to a state championship. The other will experience the agony of defeat for the first time all year.
Kickoff at Kemp Memorial Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Friday night.
Advance tickets are available at the Clearfield Area High School athletic office. Adults are $6, students are $3.