The final Friday of September marks the halfway point in the 2012 high school football season. Through the first month of the season, teams that were strong one year ago are strong once again, while others that made noise in 2011 are staying rather silent. Some moved up in districts or classes, and that has created stiff competition.
The Clearfield Bison have shown that year in and year out, they are one of the top teams in central Pennsylvania. This year, the Mountain League has become a lot tougher with an eight-team league, with each team facing one another at a certain point through the season.
For 2012, the schedule is only nine games, as two non-conference games fill the remaining part of the schedule.
The Bison will get to experience their second non-conference game Friday night, as the squad puts its undefeated record on the line in front of their home crowd against the Central Mountain Wildcats.
One year ago, this game did not go as planned for the Wildcats. In front of the home crowd, the Wildcats were on the wrong end of a 35-19 defeat. The defense gave up nearly 400 yards of offense, with 257 of those yards from then running back Beau Swales. This year, it’s not going to be as easy a task for the Bison, as despite being at 2-2, Central Mountain has a very strong offense, and one that could cause some problems for the home defense.
Returning for the Wildcats in this year’s contest is Von Walker, who last year scored two of the three touchdowns in Central Mountain’s loss to Clearfield.
However, the senior quarterback and running back has been one very strong force on the field, whether being handed the ball, or throwing. Walker has already racked up 708 yards rushing on the season, a team high, and has rushed for seven of the team’s nine rushing touchdowns. He also has thrown for 214 yards, tossing one touchdown and only one interception. That means he is a very strong duel threat, and is going to be the lead focus for the Bison defense.
At the same time, another duel threat player that Central Mountain has at their disposal is junior Travis Turchetta. When he is at quarterback, he’s potent, completing 23 of 43 passes this season, three for touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also plays tight end, which makes him both a strong receiver and great run blocker.
The Bison also will have to deal with the top two receivers Central Mountain has this season, Cole Renninger and Tyler Pavalko. The two receivers have scored the three receiving touchdowns on the season for the Wildcats, combining for 475 receiving yards.
No doubt, these four young men will be key if the Wildcats plan to upset the home team. But the Bison are planning to keep their offensive game plan the same as its been through the first four games, which is a balanced offense but capable of breaking a big play at a moment’s notice.
That was certainly the case last week as the passing game for Clearfield saw only four completions in the victory over Huntingdon, however all four passes went for touchdowns. Quarterback Christian Lezzer hasn’t seen much passing in a few games this season, but when he is able to let the ball fly, he puts it right where his receivers need it. Last week his receiver was Trey Jordan, who found all the gaps in the secondary to get into the end zone.
Lezzer has eight passing touchdowns this year, with only three interceptions, and all eight touchdowns have gone to Jordan as well. At the same time, he’s just as dangerous on the ground, as Lezzer has 367 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.
Also a lethal weapon on the ground is junior Tyler Stratton. He has fewer carries than Lezzer thus far this season, but has more yardage. Stratton has 441 yards on the ground, averaging just over eight yards a carry and has five touchdowns.
Both teams are evenly matched heading into Friday night’s contest, and it could go either way when the final whistle blows.
Kickoff at the Bison Sports Complex is set for 7 p.m.