HYDE — It was the last night that 15 Clearfield Bison football players would put on the black jerseys, lace up the cleats, and put on the classic black helmet with the Bison stickers for the 2011 season. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends gathered at the Bison Sports Complex to honor this group and the accomplishments they had earned the last four years playing on the gridiron.
But all that came before the opening kickoff; there was a football game still needing to be played. The opposition standing on the sidelines were the Huntingdon Bearcats.
It wasn’t a pleasant start for either team, as turnovers made up the first half, with only one touchdown between the two. But, the senior players on the Bisons took over the game coming out of the locker room, breaking the game wide open, scoring four touchdowns, and forcing turnovers to assist in getting a 35-7 victory in the regular season finale.
After the game, coach Tim Janocko spoke of his senior players in respect to the game played and their influence on the football program the last four years.
“I told the seniors before the game that they will go down as one of the best classes in the program because of what they accomplished,” Janocko said. “Tonight, they all contributed. We were trying to spread the ball around to all of them.”
No senior player stood out over the other, as quarterback Curtis Frye, running backs Ryan Hertlein and Beau Swales, and wide receiver Robert Myers accounted for all the touchdowns on the night.
Frye ran for one score, while also throwing for one touchdown, ending the night with 86 all-purpose yards. Hertlein scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, ending the night with 41 yards on the ground. Swales once again was the lead rusher for the game, with 126 yards, plus one reception for 19 yards. Myers was on the receiving end of Frye’s touchdown pass, which was the opening score of the second half.
On the opposing side of the ball, things did not go well for the Bearcats. Three turnovers gave the Bisons a short field for the majority of the second half, while the defense held the offense to just 128 total yards.
Huntingdon opted to receive the opening kickoff, and methodically worked down the field while taking time off the clock. Thanks to a Bison personal foul on a third down run, the drive was able to continue. However, the drive stalled out at the Clearfield 40, and the Bisons took over from there.
The Bisons worked the ground game the entire time on the drive, making it to the Huntingdon 7, but then things went wrong. Swales got the handoff, and appeared to get in the end zone. However, the ball was stripped away, and recovered by the Bearcats. Despite pleading with the referees that he was already down when the ball came out, the officials saw it differently. The turnover resulted in a touchback, with Huntingdon taking over at the 20-yard-line.
The ensuing drive would not work out in the Bearcats favor, as the Bison defense, and a personal foul penalty, only netted five yards total, and a punt.
Clearfield had another strong drive going but would run into trouble again. On 2nd and 14 from the Huntingdon 25, Swales leaped over some Huntingdon players to get some extra yards, but one defender got his hand in and stripped the ball once again. Huntingdon recovered the fumble, and Clearfield’s second drive once again ended in a turnover.
But the Bisons didn’t have to wait long until they got their big break. The ensuing possession saw Bearcats quarterback Alec Tressler have his 3rd and 11 pass get deflected at the line and intercepted by sophomore lineman Jacob Verchick, who returned the ball to the Huntingdon 7, setting up a very short field for Clearfield.
Not wasting much time, Swales rushed the ball to the 2, and Frye took the ball the next two plays, capping it off with his 1-yard plunge into the end zone. An extra point later, it was 7-0 in favor of the Bisons, which it remained until halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, Clearfield would receive the kickoff, and the first drive of the half set the tone for how the second half would be. Five running plays would begin the drive, but Clearfield was stopped and faced third down on the Bearcats 18. Frye then decided to try his luck through the air. Despite only going 2 for 5 in the first half, he was confident in his arm, and let the ball loose right over the middle of the field, landing in the hands of Myers for the touchdown. The extra point would make it 14-0, and would be the final passing play by Clearfield for the game.
The kickoff then became an interesting aspect of the game. Coleman Kubala lined up and the hands team was ready for the kickoff. But, as has been seen in previous weeks, Kubala lined the ball right into one of the up-backs for Huntingdon, catching the Bearcats by surprise. The ball was recovered by Clearfield, and once more the Bearcats had to wait to get their offense going.
Clearfield stuck with the ground game on the drive, and this time it was Hertlein making a 22-yard rumble for the touchdown. Another extra point by Spencer Herrington made it 21-0 with 5:34 remaining in the third quarter.
As if the previous kickoff wasn’t crazy enough, the next one was more insane. Kubala got some air under the ball and it made it’s way inside the Huntingdon 20. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was touched by a player, and was again recovered by Clearfield. With only 13 yards to score, it was a matter of time before Clearfield made their way in.
Two plays is all it took, as Swales took both carries and found the end zone. With 4:31 left in the third, the score was 28-0 Bisons, and seemingly the game was well in hand.
After nearly eight minutes of waiting, Huntingdon finally got their chance to play offense. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. An incomplete pass, and a sack were the highlights on the three-and-out drive. But Clearfield wanted to end the drive with an exclamation point, and did just that.
The ensuing punt by Huntingdon was blocked, and the ball was recovered by Clearfield at the 8-yard-line.
A short field meant only one thing, run the ball and score a touchdown. Hertlein accomplished both those items on one play, scoring the go-ahead touchdown for the Bisons. Another extra point by Herrington made the score 35-0, and invoked the Mercy Rule.
“In the locker room I told everyone that we needed to calm down, and we made some adjustments offensively,” Janocko said. “The second fumble was just Beau (Swales) trying to get some extra yardage, and he lost the ball. But we made some changes and they worked in our favor.”
The final score of the night came from Huntingdon when Mitchell Justice caught a 3-yard touchdown from Gordon Gable. By that point, Janocko had the younger players in getting some playing time as the game was well in hand.
After ending the season 9-1, Janocko took some time to analyze the game and the performance of his team.
“We’re playing well. We threw the ball effectively when we needed to, especially with the touchdown to Robbie, and special teams were huge tonight,” Janocko said. “We preach special teams from June until now, and it showed.”
But now, things become even more critical. While Clearfield was finishing their regular season, other teams were beginning their run in the playoffs. The Bisons will begin their run in the 2011 playoffs next week, as the next task for the team is to win the District IX Class AAA championship. To Janocko, that now becomes the focus with the regular season complete.
“Playoffs are the second season. We’re playing well, and the teams that we will be facing are playing well,” Janocko said.
Clearfield’s playoff opponent and site will be determined early next week. For updated brackets, visit D9Sports.com, along with ClearfieldFootball.org.
See pictures of the Bison win here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/110411game.html
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Huntingdon 0 0 0 7 – 7
Clearfield 0 7 28 0 – 35
BISONS: 1-yard run by Frye (Herrington kick), 4:06
BISONS: 11-yard pass from Frye to Myers (Herrington kick), 8:39
BISONS: 22-yard run by Hertlein (Herrington kick), 5:34
BISONS: 11-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 4:31
BISONS: 8-yard run by Hertlein (Herrington kick), 2:51
BEARCATS: 3-yard pass from Gable to Justice (Gibbs kick), 2:10
First Downs: HN-8 CF-12
Rush Yards: HN-77 CF-240
Pass Yards: HN-51 CF-71
Penalties: HN-6 CF-5
Penalty Yards: HN-46 CF-40
Total Yards: HN-128 CF-311
Interceptions: HN-1 CF-0
Fumbles: HN-4 CF-4
Fumbles Lost: HN-2 CF-2
Time of Possession: HN-21:23 CF-26:37
Huntingdon: Garman-11 carries, 49 yards; Tressler-6 carries, 11 yards; Riley-3 carries, 11 yards; Romano-3 carries, 11 yards; Lauer-1 carry, 1 yard; Team-3 carries, (-6) yards.
Clearfield: Swales-20 carries, 126 yards, TD; Lezzer-9 carries, 52 yards; Hertlein-5 carries, 41 yards, 2 TD; Frye-4 carries, 15 yards, TD; Trude-3 carries, 2 yards; Woomer-1 carry, 4 yards; Beardsley-1 carry, 3 yards; Team-1 carry, (-2) yards.
Huntingdon: Tressler-2 completions, 7 attempts, 13 yards, INT; Gable-3 completions, 3 attempts, 38 yards, TD.
Clearfield: Frye-3 completions, 6 attempts, 71 yards, TD.
Huntingdon: Justice-2 catches, 32 yards, TD; Riley-1 catch, 7 yards; Garman-1 catch, 6 yards; Jadlocki-1 catch, 6 yards.
Clearfield: Jordan-1 catch, 34 yards; Swales-1 catch, 19 yards; Myers-1 catch, 18 yards, TD.