Yet another championship is in the grasp of one local football team, as the Clearfield Bison continue to march on their undefeated campaign of 2012 into another round of the playoffs.
This time, the Bison will have to go on the road to a neutral site, but for the first time all season they will not play under the bright lights of a Friday night. Instead, this week’s District 5-6-8-9 championship contest will take place on a Saturday afternoon, and will happen at one of Pennsylvania’s premier college campuses.
Clarion University will welcome the Bison as they bring their 11-0 record to face off against the University Prep Wildcats, who enter this week’s game at 6-3.
If a high-scoring, offensive style game is what fans like, there is likely going to be no disappointment in this game. Both squads come into this game with high-scoring offenses. University Prep is averaging just over 33 points per game, while Clearfield is averaging just over 39. This could make for a long afternoon on the field as that means both squads statistically are among the best in the state.
University Prep’s quarterback, Akil Young, is coming off what could be the greatest game not only of his career, but in the history of the PIAA playoffs. In the victory against Somerset, Young threw for an incredible 462 yards, completing 30 of 46 passes, and tossed six touchdowns. He is only 122 yards from passing 2,000 yards on the season, and through nine games has only thrown five interceptions, while passing for 21 scores.
Not only that, his accuracy is impressive as well, as he’s completed nearly 57 percent of his passes through this season.
With those kind of statistics, there’s no doubt his receiving corps is top notch as well. The receiver to watch out for this week is Marcus Johnson, Young’s favorite target. Johnson has received for 711 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season, including two scores last week, and has been tough to defend all season long. Clearfield must prepare for this in order to make Young make bad decisions in his passing game.
However that also leads to other receivers making big contributions, like Clay Moorefield, the Wildcats’ running back. He was key as he also reeled in a touchdown pass against Somerset and has seven total on the year. This shows depth in the roster for University Prep.
At the same time, Clearfield has its own trio that the Wildcats must be aware of in this game.
The leader of that trio, quarterback Christian Lezzer. He is nearly a mirror image to Young, as he’s also completed a majority of his passes, 47 for 82, and has 1,210 yards through the air this season, including 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. However, the key for Lezzer this week will be using his feet.
Lezzer leads the team in rushing, as he’s gained over 1,400 yards on the ground this season, averaging 7.5 yards a carry and rushed for 21 touchdowns. Last week alone he ran for over 200 yards in the victory over Punxsutawney, his first 200-yard rushing game of the season.
When Lezzer is not rushing the ball, he’s often handing it to Tyler Stratton, who before being injured last week, continued an impressive season on the ground. Stratton has 1,134 yards so far this season, including 15 touchdowns, and averages almost eight yards a carry.
This is the second year the ground game for Clearfield has been the most impressive stat, but that’s not to say the passing game has suffered.
As stated, Lezzer is still having an impressive year throwing the ball, especially when it comes to passing to his favorite target, Trey Jordan. These two are not very often out of sync, as Jordan has 937 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns. He is the one the Wildcats must contain in order for the passing to be limited for the Bison.
What could be key though in Clearfield’s game is using both Shawn Lord and Seth Ford. While Lezzer’s favorite receiver may be Jordan, Lord has proved to be very strong from the tight end position, especially for his size. Meanwhile, Ford has been the “put away” back in a sense for the Bison, taking some of the load off Lezzer and Stratton. Don’t be surprised if these two also see a lot of game time and could have some key plays for the Bison.
This contest is shaping up to be a game where the offensive statistics will mirror that of a game on a basketball court rather than the gridiron.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Clarion University. For directions to the stadium, visit ClearfieldFootball.org.