For some schools week 10 of the football season means the finale of a long campaign that began in September. Some teams are getting a break by having a bye week in getting prepared for the playoffs. For two teams in Class AAA, this week means the opportunity to hold a trophy. After nine weeks of competition, this Friday night is the Class AAA championship game for District IX.
In an ironic twist, it is exactly the same game that occurred one year ago, both in teams competing and in venue.
This year’s title game will have the Bradford Owls make a long trip down south to take on the Clearfield Bison, who will also hit the road to decide the championship at Varischetti Field in Brockway.
Some may call this a mismatch in a title game based solely on the different records, but in reality the two teams are very similar in styles of offense. Statistics may not match as far as amounts, but in percentage-wise they are very similar in how the teams will play the game. Both teams are a running offense, passing the ball only when it feels needed. Both average 75 percent of the offensive game plan by keeping the ball in the hands of their running backs and keeping control of the clock.
For Bradford, their season has been a struggle, but this week they have an opportunity to erase those troubles and pull a major upset.
The player that Clearfield will need to somehow keep wrapped up is Alex Colosimo. He’s the leading rusher on the Owls, rushing for 608 yards this season and two scores, including a new District 10 record 95-yard run for a score in last week’s game against St. Mary’s. The Bison still can’t look past the Owls’ other strong runner, Kyle Langdon. The junior tail back has 492 rushing yards this season and leads the team with three touchdowns.
Bradford’s passing game has not been the greatest this season, as junior quarterback Zach Bartlebaugh has only gone 14-for-55 for 199 yards. He has thrown two touchdowns, but also has thrown 11 interceptions.
On the opposing side of the ball, the Owls defense is preparing for a similar game plan to what their offense does. However the difficult part for Bradford is that Clearfield has been a dominant team when they decide to run the ball.
The reason for that is because they don’t just have one strong rusher, they have three, and all are capable of scoring. The Bison currently average over 350 yards rushing a game, led by senior Christian Lezzer, who has become more of a “Slash” player for Clearfield since the middle of the season. He leads the team with 1353 yards on the ground, rushing for 23 touchdowns. But what makes him so dangerous now is his ability to play at running back, quarterback, and even wide receiver.
This has shown to confuse the defense and cause them to have difficulty covering him, as was evident against both Tyrone and Philipsburg-Osceola.
But when Lezzer isn’t the one carrying the ball, both Tyler Stratton and Seth Caldwell have been able to handle the load. Despite being slowed down due to injuries, Stratton has 954 yards rushing on the year, with 17 touchdowns. It has been a heartache of a season as both rib injuries, and recently an injured foot, has slowed his senior season. Two weeks ago, he had a career 4-touchdown night against Bald Eagle, but has often had to watch from the sidelines as he would sit out a lot of time.
Yet when he is out, Seth Caldwell is the one that is getting the carries, and has shown that despite being a freshman, he is scary fast and can bring a lot of excitement to the team.
Caldwell has run for 644 yards this season, including five touchdowns, has caught one touchdown from quarterback Eric Sellers, and also had an interception return for a touchdown. This young freshman has surprised a lot of people this season, and has shown that he will be more than capable of taking over the running back position as Stratton is set to graduate.
This game could be a battle of attrition of which defense will get worn out more due to the running game, as both teams are capable of running the ball and running the clock.
One team at the end of the night will celebrate a district championship, and possibly move on into the PIAA playoffs, which are set to begin the following week. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Brockway. For directions to the stadium, visit ClearfieldFootball.org.
|ST. JOAN OF ARC
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|BALD EAGLE AREA
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