Entering the midway point of a season, many local football squads have an understanding of what their identity is. Sometimes their record does not showcase that, but their play on the field backs it up.
The Clearfield Bison have found their identity for the 2013 season, and through the first month of the year its been clear…read option, dual-run threats equal big numbers. The team is once again undefeated entering the final game of September, and hopes to keep the streak rolling on the road once again. Clearfield is competing in just their second road game of the year, as it is a trip to Mill Hall to take on the Central Mountain Wildcats.
One year ago, the Wildcats traveled to Clearfield, but went home with a sour taste in their mouth as they would go home with a 35-14 loss. The year prior when Central Mountain hosted the Bison, they still tasted a loss, ironically by a similar score, 35-19.
This year’s Wildcat offense is extremely balanced, which can cause issues for the opposing defense. Their 1-3 record doesn’t show it, but there is a lot of talent on this year’s squad. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Bitner has been strong under center, having a quarterback rating of 63. For the year he is 38 for 86, passing for 559 yards and eight touchdowns. However he’s also thrown seven interceptions, and this season the Bison defense has been very strong in the secondary, blocking passes and taking potential catches away.
At the same time, their ground game has been strong through their first two games, but the teams they have faced have consistently been strong on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats average 130 yards per game rushing, with senior Nigel English leading the charge.
He has a team-high 253 yards rushing and two touchdowns, averaging nearly eight yards a carry. He will be the big hauler for Central Mountain, and the Bison defense will have to contain him to control the line.
At the same time, the Bison offense has shown their strength week after week. In years past, Clearfield has relied a lot on the passing game, and has shown that based on the records that former Clearfield quarterback Curtis Frye put up in his three-year career as a starter. But for the last three years, the team has utilized the read-option as an incredible strength. This season, the passing game of Christian Lezzer is not bad, but it has not been used much. Lezzer has only thrown for 282 yards through four games, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, averaging 70.5 yards a game through the air.
The reason, he and his two running backs of Tyler Stratton and Seth Caldwell have been running the ball at will against the opposing defense.
Clearfield is averaging 382 yards per game on the ground, with Lezzer leading every rushing statistic. He is poised to possibly break the 1000-yard mark in just two games, while teammates Stratton and Caldwell are just under 400 yards each on the year, each with four touchdowns.
What could be concerning to Clearfield is the health of Stratton. In the season’s first game, he only carried three times, as he was nursing injuries from the scrimmage the week before. Last week, he left the game after the second quarter, appearing to have an injury to his hip.
Losing Stratton on offense is one thing, because there is a lot of backup that can fill the void. What hurt Clearfield a lot was not having him on defense as a corner. The last couple weeks Clearfield has used two freshman corners against some strong offenses, but his leadership and quickness can prove to be a deciding factor. If Stratton cannot go against Central Mountain, expect Caldwell to be the one in the backfield and in the secondary for yet another week.
The month of September comes to a close this coming Monday, and the Bison will either have an undefeated record when the final whistle blows, or the Wildcats will have secured the upset of the season. Kickoff at the Central Mountain High School is at 7 p.m. For directions, visit ClearfieldFootball.org.
|08/30||ST. JOAN OF ARC||45 – 7||1 – 0|
|09/06||PENNS VALLEY||37 – 15||2 – 0|
|09/13||@ Central||35 – 20||3 – 0|
|09/20||HUNTINGDON||58 – 30||4 – 0|
|09/27||@ Central Mountain|
|10/18||BALD EAGLE AREA|