Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties (0-8) at Clearfield Bison (8-0)
Senior night for high school football is a bitter-sweet night for everyone. On the one hand, it’s still a home game which means the fans will come out bigger than any game previous in the season, and will be rooting for one more win at home for the year. But on the other hand, the players that spent three years on the sidelines, giving their heart, soul, and bodies to win in front of their school know it will be the last time they suit up in that kind of atmosphere.
That time has come for the undefeated Clearfield Bison. Through the entire 2012 season, with each victory, the year has gone on with memories the senior class will cherish.
Now, one last game at the Bison Sports Complex will complete the regular season. The senior class will take the field Friday night looking to obtain its final victory at home. The opposition at the opposing side of the field, the winless Mounties of Philipsburg-Osceola.
One year ago, this game was the biggest game of the year for the Mounties, as it was homecoming night, and they were rolling with a strong record. Not having the best of luck against the Bison in years past, they came ready to play, and also to pull the upset. On that night, in front of one of the more rowdy crowds seen at Memorial Field, it was the Mounties that pulled the stunning 40-33 upset on Clearfield, a game that coach Jeff Vroman called their “Signature win” of the year.
One year later, things are not the same.
The Mounties have gone winless on the season, and in all but two games failed to get into the double digits of scoring. Despite the winless record, P-O does have some strong athletes that the Bison will be looking to contain all night, especially considering P-O’s base offense is primarily running the ball, a classic ground-and-pound offense that has been a P-O staple for many years.
The Mounties have three rushers that will see a lot of time with the ball, starting with senior Nick Gray. Through eight games, he has 518 yards rushing, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. Then there’s junior Dustin Shuey, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and also has two scores.
Finally there’s Erik Smith, who has 218 yards on the ground, and leads the Mounties with three rushing touchdowns.
If these three get shut down, it will be a long night for the Mounties as they have virtually no passing game. Combined, junior quarterbacks Caleb Pepperday and Curtis Matsko are 27 for 95 through the air, 253 total passing yards, one touchdown and nine interceptions. Do not expect P-O to air it out a lot, if at all.
But on the opposite side of the ball, the Bison are clicking well, and are also getting their lead players some much needed rest with the playoffs just around the corner. Clearfield is coming off a 49-8 rout of Bald Eagle, a game where the first-team offense was taken out before halftime as all 49 points for the Bison came in the first two quarters of play.
Leading the charge this year is Christian Lezzer and Tyler Stratton on the ground, and both are on the cusp of having 1000-yard seasons. Lezzer is just 96 yards away from the millenium mark, while Stratton is 155 away. The two have combined for 23 of the team’s 26 rushing touchdowns, and both will see a lot of action in the regular season finale.
But, Lezzer made it clear last week that he’s also just as good through the air. The junior quarterback has completed 60 percent of his passes, and one week ago eclipsed 1000 yards passing. Not only that, but he has rarely turned the ball over.
He has 14 touchdown passes, but only five interceptions. That shows he’s sharp with his passes, but does not make bad choices or bad throws.
When he is airing the ball out, it’s usually Trey Jordan or Shawn Lord on the receiving end of his passes. The senior wide out and senior tight end will have many emotions running through them as they take the field one last time in front of the redx and black faithful, but will almost be guaranteed to have their moment in the sun at some point on the night. The two have combined for nearly 950 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns, and both will be hard to contain when the Bison are on offense.
The final game of 2012 at the Bison Sports Complex will kick off at 7 p.m. ET. Prior to kickoff, the senior members of the football team, cheerleading squad and band will be honored along with their families.