The fall air has come in with a strong presence, as the temperatures have dropped, and the leaves have begun falling on the ground. It means that it has truly become football weather. It is also at the point of the season where the regular season is coming to a close for schools, while some know that there’s a possibility of moving ahead into the post-season.
Clearfield has endured a season with all the challenges they have faced, both in tough opponents and tough injuries, they remain undefeated. They have one regular season contest left in the 2013 season, and to obtain their third undefeated season in four years, the one opponent remaining is long-time rival Philipsburg-Osceola.
This game is the final road game for Clearfield, and heading to Memorial Field in Philipsburg brings back painful memories of the last time these two faced at that field.
On that night, the Mounties came in with one of the best crowds they had seen in many years, thanks to a very strong team that surprised a lot of people. They took it to Clearfield from the opening whistle, with the Bison not yielding a bit. Many points were put on the board, but when the final whistle blew, it was P-O that scored the biggest victory of their season, upsetting the then-unbeaten Bison in a 40-33 thriller.
Since then, the Bison have gone on a 21-game regular season win streak, one that at least on paper seems it will continue.
The Mounties come into the contest with a balanced offensive attack. P-O is averaging 116 yards passing and 161 yards rushing per game entering Friday’s contest. The man leading the Mountie offense is senior quarterback Curtis Matsko, who enters the game 56-for-114 on the year, throwing for 710 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he has also thrown six interceptions, which has brought down his QB rating on the season. The Bison defense has been aggressive in getting the ball, meaning Matsko will need to be smart with passes, otherwise the Clearfield secondary will have more interceptions on the season.
P-O does have a strong ground game, thanks to seniors Dustin Shuey and Mason Pryde. Shuey is the leading rusher on the team, running for 526 yards and six touchdowns, averaging nearly eight yards a carry.
Pryde has been a good complement, rushing for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Not to be outdone, Matsko himself has rushed for 237 yards and six touchdowns this season. That means the Bison defense will have to account for three strong runners, and corral all of them to prevent a possible upset.
Meanwhile, the Mountie defense has a monumental task ahead of themselves. Clearfield has ran roughshod on every team this season, averaging almost 350 yards per game on the ground, and doing so with two strong running backs, and now one player that has become the Bison’s own version of former Nittany Lion and current Seattle Seahawk, Michael Robinson.
Senior Christian Lezzer started the year as quarterback, and is still listed as such. But the last three weeks, he’s become a player that could line up at quarterback, running back, or wide receiver. Lezzer is the leading rusher for the Bison, having 1102 yards on the ground this year, rushing for 18 touchdowns. But a week ago, the spotlight came off of him and back on his senior teammate, Tyler Stratton. All season injuries have plagued his year, including one against Tyrone that saw him only play one quarter. But last week was his defining moment, rushing for 206 yards and all four Bison touchdowns.
He is just outside the 1000-yard mark on the year, which at one point didn’t seem possible with his string of bad luck. But Stratton is putting that luck behind him, ready to face his final regular-season defense.
Do not look past freshman Seth Caldwell, either. He’s been a big surprise for the Bison in his first year, running for over 500 yards and five touchdowns. With Stratton graduating this year, it seems as though Clearfield does have a new running back to take over for the next few years.
The other surprising player has been the emergence of Eric Sellers, who took over at starting quarterback against Bellefonte. He is currently 11-for-25 this season, with one touchdown. The change in game plan was originally to give their main starter, Lezzer, a rest, but it has worked for three straight weeks to win games, and likely will be used again against P-O.
For Clearfield, this is the end of their season, as they appear to have another run at a District IX championship in their future, but do not tell that to Tim Janocko. He will have his team looking at this week’s game, and not ahead.
The chill in the air will be brisk, with possible snow falling on the grass, and temperatures dropping into the 30’s by game’s end. Kickoff in Philipsburg is slated for 7 p.m.
|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||49 – 13||5 – 0|
|10/04||@ Bellefonte||49 – 13||6 – 0|
|10/11||TYRONE||27 – 26||7 – 0|
|10/18||BALD EAGLE AREA||31 – 6||8 – 0|