It is easy to feel the momentum and support from a crowd when the team that is winning is the home team. Clearfield started the season with back-to-back home contests, one ending in a 45-7 victory over St. Joan of Arc and last week’s 37-15 triumph over Penns Valley. But, trying to do the same thing when away from the home crowd, where everything is familiar, is the challenge.
Clearfield is now at that point for the first time this season. Last week head coach Tim Janocko said that this game would be the most difficult of the year, stating that the opponent is the toughest on the schedule.
This week, the Bison travel to Martinsburg hoping to continue their undefeated season; but in order to do that they must overcome a very stout, very tough, and very determined team in the Central Dragons, also sitting at 2-0.
A year ago, this game went right down to the wire between these two schools at the Bison Sports Complex. The back-and-forth contest was one of the better games that was seen all season. The deciding factor in the end was two field goals by Clearfield’s Spencer Herrington. His six points made the biggest difference, as Clearfield defeated Central 34-33. It could, likely, be a similar game this year as both teams already are showing signs of being among the top in central Pennsylvania.
Clearfield is at a point currently where they are good, but at times have been sloppy. Statistically, they are showing that their ground game is top notch, just like a year ago. Through two games they are averaging 368 yards on the ground, with a trio of backs that are doing the job extremely well.
It was expected that both Christian Lezzer and Tyler Stratton would be the backbone of the ground game. Stratton sat out most of the St. Joan of Arc game due to injury, but made up for it last week with over 100 yards rushing and his first touchdown of the season. Lezzer is leading the team in rushing statistics thus far, 308 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. But, the big story through the first two games is a young freshman that has shown that when he gets the call to run, he makes the most of the opportunity.
Seth Caldwell has gone on a running rampage in two games, 215 yards and two touchdowns. But what is more impressive is most of those runs have come on just two drives. When Caldwell carries, he is difficult to take down. Central will need to contain him as well in order to win.
But at the same time, Clearfield needs to make a major adjustment, as in not turning the ball over. Through just two games, the Bison have committed six turnovers, mostly by fumbles.
Against a team like Central, turnovers could destroy the Bison, so Janocko knows that will be addressed entering Friday’s contest.
On the opposing side of the ball, Central is a very balanced offense. It was that kind of offense that gave them a critical 25-12 victory over Tyrone.
The Dragons average just over 230 yards on the ground, plus 153 yards through the air. This could be big because the Bison secondary has been beaten a couple of times already this season, and if Central can get the ground game going, that will open up the passing offense for senior quarterback Austin Cunningham.
This season he’s thrown for 196 yards, and a touchdown. But has thrown no interceptions. It may not seem like much, but there has not been much of a need to pass the ball thanks to the impressive rushing attack of Central.
Cunningham himself has 175 yards rushing thus far on the year, including three touchdowns. Teammate Bradi Moore has 135 yards on the ground for the season, plus three touchdowns. These two once again will have a core of the carries, so the defensive line and linebackers will have to contain both of them in the hopes of forcing the passing game to take over.
Janocko had this game circled on the schedule as an early test for his team, especially since it will be on the road. Kickoff in Martinsburg will be at 7 p.m.
|ST. JOAN OF ARC
|45 – 7
|1 – 0
|37 – 15
|2 – 0
|@ Central Mountain
|BALD EAGLE AREA