FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Former Curwensville Area High School teammates Nick Sipes and Shawn Sopic were instrumental in Clarion celebrating its first season-opening win since 1996 Thursday night.
Shawn Sopic (Photo courtesy of Clarion University).
Nick Sipes (Photo courtesy of Clarion University).
The two veteran safeties combined for 22 stops as the visiting Golden Eagles disappointed a partisan crowd of 5,714 at Duvall-Rosier Field by defeating Fairmont State 33-21.
Clarion\’s defense frustrated the Falcons with four takeaways, including interceptions that cornerbacks Daily Whitten and Chris Wilson returned for touchdowns.
Sipes, switched from fullback to strong safety for his junior season, led the Golden Eagles with a career-high 10 solo tackles, including one sack for a two-yard loss. Three assists gave the 5-11, 215-pounder a career-best 13 stops.
Sopic, a 6-2, 200-pound free safety who topped the defense in solo and total tackles last year, was one of three Golden Eagles with nine stops, six of which were solo efforts. He shared one tackle for a loss of one yard.
Sopic also blocked Fairmont\’s 42-yard field goal attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter with Clarion ahead 26-14.
Also a junior, Sopic was installed as the Golden Eagle starting free safety late in his freshman season and has held the job for 15 consecutive games. In all, he\’s played 21 games and produced 109 tackles, four interceptions, six passes broken up, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
He was selected Clarion\’s Defensive Most Valuable Player last fall after leading the team with 37 solo tackles and three interceptions and sharing honors for total stops with 65 and passes broken up with five. His two outstanding performances were 11 stops and one interception against East Stroudsburg and 10 stops against Slippery Rock.
Sipes began his college career as a linebacker, starting seven of 11 games, and was No. 3 in tackles with 71, his 37 solo efforts and 34 assists both second-best to Quintyn Brazil. A dozen tackles on special teams in 2008 boosted his overall total to 83 to go with two fumble recoveries.
Last season, Sipes started all 11 games and wound up the Golden Eagles\’ second-leading rusher with 45 carries for 297 net yards and three touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 10 yards.
As a freshman, Sipes also was given an opportunity to display his kicking ability and responded by making nine of 11 extra point attempts and three of six field goal tries.
In February, Sipes and Sopic were among 126 Clarion athletes cited at a luncheon for achieving a cumulative grade-point average of 3.20 or higher, had a GPA of 3.2 or higher for two consecutive semesters, or had a GPA of 3.2 or higher for the spring and fall semesters in 2008.
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SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Redshirt junior lineman J.D. Skebo of Curwensville was an interior blocker for the Slippery Rock extra point and field goal units in Saturday evening\’s thrilling 31-27 victory over Bowie (Md.) State on Bob DiSpirito Field.
An N. Kerr Thompson Stadium crowd of 3,509 saw The Rock fall behind three times before pulling out the non-conference win on a touchdown with 59 seconds remaining.
In the pre-season coach\’s poll, Slippery Rock was ranked fifth among the eight teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.
Skebo, a 6-3, 300-pounder, has been utilized at center and guard on the offensive line in his three seasons at SRU.
He was one of 23 Rock gridders who earned PSAC Scholar-Athlete status last fall, when he played in seven games as a special teamer and back-up to all-conference center Brandon Fusco.
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READING, Pa. – With glittering credentials on his resume, Tanner Kelly of Olanta is gearing up for his fourth season as field general for Albright, which enters the 2009 season as defending tri-champion of the Middle Atlantic Conference.
The Lions, who made it back-to-back 8-3 records with a win in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III South Atlantic Bowl, kick off the season Saturday against Ursinus at Collegeville.
Kelly will be under center for the 30th consecutive game.
The former Clearfield Area High School quarterback has amassed 567 completions for 6,586 yards and 59 touchdowns. He\’s been intercepted only 25 times in 882 attempts and sports a 64.3 completion percentage and 143.4 pass efficiency rating.
In addition, the 6-3, 215-pounder has 308 official rushing attempts, a number that includes sacks, for 623 yards and five scores.
His total offensive yardage is 7,209, an average of 232.6 yards per game.
Last year, Kelly was named MAC first-team punter after averaging 37.2 yards for 54 kicks, both second-best in the conference. He launched punts of 50 or more yards in five games and pinned opponents inside their 20 on 16 boots.
His career average is 37.1 yards for 133 punts.
In 2008, Albright relied more on a much-improved ground game and defense, so Kelly\’s passing production fell off by nearly 1,000 yards from the previous season, when he threw for 2,716 yards and 25 TDs in earning MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Kelly was one of 36 Albright student-athletes who qualified for the 2008 Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Corporation Fall Academic Honor Roll, which requires a varsity participant to complete the season in good standing with a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher.
A total of 561 athletes from 16 small colleges in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey made the Academic Honor Roll.
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Redshirt sophomore Andrew Janocko of Clearfield will be Pitt\’s extra point and field goal holder for the second year.
The 6-2, 200-pound quarterback will perform the important duty of handling the snap and setting the ball in place for Dan Hutchins, a redshirt junior from Loyalsock High School near Williamsport.
Both walk-ons have been put on scholarship, Panther coach Dave Wannstedt announced at Monday\’s press conference previewing Saturday\’s opener with Youngstown State.
\”That\’s a real positive thing for those kids, and for our program,\” Wannstedt said. \”A lot of schools talk about rewarding these young players who walk on. It\’s easier said than done.
\”We try to encourage walk-ons to join our program whenever we can. They are a very important part of the success that we have here. We don\’t get a lot of them, but we\’ve had our share of walk-on players here who have become contributors. Any time that we have the opportunity to help out a kid that has contributed to the team, we do so.\”
Last fall, Janocko and senior Conor Lee were a near-perfect combination for the Panthers. Lee made all 38 extra point tries and hit 20 of 24 field goal attempts. All four misses were 40 yards or longer, including a 57-yarder that was just short in the final minutes of Pitt\’s 3-0 loss to Oregon State in the 75th Sun Bowl.
Lee graduated with Pitt records for field goals in a game (5 against Notre Dame in 2008), season (20 in 2008) and career (50), most consecutive field goals (12) and most consecutive extra points (113). His career field goal percentage of 83.3 also is the all-time best.
Pitt is the choice of a 24-member media panel to win the Big East title.
Panther games can be heard on radio stations WPHB-AM (1260) in Philipsburg, WCED-AM (1420) in DuBois and WFBG-AM (1290) in Altoona.
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HUNTINGDON, Pa. – A trio of former Clearfield Area High School gridders are on the Juniata team that will be facing stiff challenges in the nine-team Centennial Conference again this season.
Beau Ryan and Devin Yastro (Olanta) are seniors, while Isiah Morgan is one of the Eagles\’ freshmen recruits.
Ryan is working on his fourth letter at defensive back. The 6-1, 185-pounder has record 41 solo tackles and 23 assists in 29 games.
He started two games as a sophomore, when he logged 3.5 tackles for losses, rushed once for 15 yards and returned six kickoffs for 51 yards. He also had one tackle for a loss last year.
Yastro, a 5-10, 200-pounder, has been moved to defensive end after seeing limited action at fullback as a junior.
The 5-10, 200-pound Morgan joins a running back corps that averaged only 70.3 yards a game a year ago, with Kyle McKechnie\’s 222 yards leading the team. McKechnie is listed as a defensive back on the 2009 roster.
Conference coaches and sports information directors forecast a last-place finish for the Eagles.
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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Sophomore wide receiver David Ryan and freshman defensive back Jarrin Campman of Clearfield are members of the 2009 Lycoming squad, which is ranked No. 2 behind Delaware Valley in the Middle Atlantic Conference pre-season coaches poll.
The Warriors open Sept. 12 at home against Rowan (N.J.).
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GROVE CITY, Pa. – Clearfield Area High School graduate Tyler Kirkwood of Frenchville is competing for the starting job at wingback in the Grove City offense.
The 5-10, 220-pound junior lettered as a backfield reserve and special teamer last fall after being switched from linebacker in pre-season camp.
Kirkwood played in all nine games on the kickoff return, extra point and field goal units for the Wolverines, who host Dickinson Saturday in their opener.
A poll of coaches, sports information directors and media projected Grove City to finish behind Thomas More (Ky.) and Washington & Jefferson in the seven-team Presidents\’ Athletic Conference.
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Nick Redden of Clearfield is a listed as an offensive/defensive lineman for the 2009 Duquesne team, which opens the season Saturday by entertaining Bucknell at Rooney Field.
The Dukes compete in the nine-team Northeast Conference and are ranked sixth in the coaches\’ pre-season poll.
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INDIANA, Pa. – Cruise Kerr of Clearfield is a freshman tight end for Indiana University of Pennsylvania, off to a 1-0 start with a come-from-behind 28-21 win over homestanding Southern Connecticut Friday night.
The Crimson Hawks, ranked No. 22 in NCAA Division II, will go into the eight-team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division rated behind California and Edinboro.
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OBERLIN, Ohio – David Kalgren of Curwensville is a freshman defensive back for Oberlin, a North Coast Athletic Conference team that is booked for its opening game at Washington & Jefferson Saturday.
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LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – Jesse Hoover of Curwensville is a freshman wide receiver for Lock Haven, which was shut out 43-0 by West Chester in its non-conference opener in front of 4,000 fans at Hubert Jack Stadium Thursday night.
Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division coaches predicted an eighth-place finish for the Bald Eagles.
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LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – Junior Jennifer Williams of Clearfield made her first start for Lock Haven a memorable one with a natural hat trick Saturday afternoon.
Jen Williams (Photo courtesy of LHU Athletic Department).
The 5-2 midfielder provided the early spark with her three goals, the first of her career, in the first 18:26 as the Lady Eagles opened the 2009 season by rolling to a 12-0 win over Ohio Valley (W.Va.) at Hubert Jack Stadium.
Williams got into the scoring act just 1:16 into the non-conference game, converting a pass from Arielle Gordon for the game-winner.
She made it 3-0 at the 6:00 mark by heading home a cross from Carly D\’Orsaneo and later widened the bulge to 5-0 by booting home an offensive rebound.
Central Mountain grad Brittany Cranmer of Lock Haven added three unassisted goals as the Lady Eagles amassed the second-most goals for one game in their history.
Williams got into 11 games in a reserve role last fall. She had one assist and two shots.
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SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Juliana Howell of Clearfield managed one shot on goal as a late-game sub in Slippery Rock\’s season-opening 1-0 win over West Virginia Wesleyan at Egli Field Sunday.
The Rock, picked by the coaches to win the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division title, is ranked No. 16 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America\’s NCAA Division II Poll.
Howell, a 5-6 junior forward, has scored 14 points on six goals, including one game-winner, and two assists in her first two seasons for The Rock. She has played in 35 games, 20 as a starter.
Last year, Howell attempted 18 shots and led the team in shots on goal percentage (.667). She was second in shooting percentage (.2220 with four goals. One was The Rock\’s only successful penalty kick.
In Slippery Rock\’s third pre-season game on Aug. 19, Howell\’s perfect cross set up Ashley Paganie\’s second goal and her goal on a free kick in the 89th minute capped a 5-0 victory over Division I Duquesne.
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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Curwensville Area High School grad Dani Struble of Lumber City is being counted on to play a key role on the front line of the Westminster offense this season.
She is moving to her true position as a forward after spending her sophomore year as a midfielder on an attack unit that featured three-time All-Presidents\’ Athletic Conference standout Christiana Adams, who piled up 20 goals for the 15-5-2 Lady Titans.
Struble totaled 10 points in her first year with Westminster after transferring from Pitt-Greensburg, where she starred with a team-high 18 points in 20 games, all but one as a freshman starter.
The 5-7 junior also had 19 starts in 22 games for the Lady Titans.
Her two-year totals for 42 games are nine goals and 10 assists. She\’s registered 74 shots, including 36 on goal.
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LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – Mark Auman of Clearfield assisted on the tying goal in the 72nd minute, and Lock Haven settled for a double-overtime 3-3 tie with Molloy (N.Y.) in the 2009 opener for both teams at Hubert Jack Stadium Friday.
The 5-10 junior midfielder\’s long free kick cross was headed in by Lyndell Pompey.
Auman had one goal and one assist in 13 games in 2007 and one assist in 16 games in 2008.
He has been a starter 11 times.
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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Clearfield Area High School graduate Alan Baldwin of Olanta will be in the mix at the one question-mark position on a veteran Westminster team that is coming off the winningest season in school history.
The Titans won all six Presidents\’ Athletic Conference games and finished 17-6 after losing 1-0 to No. 3-ranked Montclair (N.J.) State in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Baldwin, a 5-10 junior midfielder, has appeared in 13 games, four as a starter, in two seasons.
He has found the net one time in nine shots and also has one assist.
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WASHINGTON, Pa. – John Lhota of Clearfield will be vying for more playing time as a Washington & Jefferson midfielder after seeing most of his action as a reserve in 30 games the last two seasons.
The junior, who started three games, owns one goal.
He\’s been credited with 13 shots, seven of them on goal.