The end of summer is bittersweet for many students. It means the days of sleeping in have come to a close, the sunshine beating down while taking a dip in a pool must stop, and instead it means early morning wakeups, text books and homework. It means that yet another school year is about to begin.
At the same time, despite summer coming to an end, it also means that fall is near, and fall also means football season. It’s another year to lace up the cleats, tie down the shoulder pads, and button down the helmet for two months of Friday night battles.
The Clearfield Bison football squad every year seems to enjoy getting back to school, because it’s a chance to represent the red and black colors of their school, and to make lasting memories with teammates, friends and coaches. For the last two years, and three of the last four, the team has represented the school and the town with pride, putting together undefeated seasons, and bringing home a District IX championship each year since 2010 along the way.
That is always the goal for head coach Tim Janocko, and this year is no different.
What is different this year is that Janocko has a young team, as only 11 players are seniors. However, many of the underclassmen were able to make an impression one year ago alongside the likes of Christian Lezzer and Tyler Stratton, among others. But Janocko wasn’t looking at what he needed to replace from his graduating class, but instead looking at what he has this season, which is a young team, but one with heart, hunger, and ambition.
That was on display this past Friday night as Janocko’s squad held their final scrimmage before the season, taking on a tough DuBois team that had size and mobility. Afterward, the Bison head coach was pleased with his team, knowing that in some aspects they were out matched.
“DuBois is a real good football team. Big, fast, athletic, and we can’t simulate that size and speed in practice,” Janocko said. “They had us on our heels when we were going 10 and 10. We got things rolling when we went to sticks and got better.”
Better was an understatement as the young team began showing some heart and hunger to get first downs. Two players that stood out actually share a position, junior Cody Spaid and senior Eric Sellers, both at quarterback. For part of the game, Sellers was under center but took a hard hit on a tackle that was nearly a helmet-to-helmet collision, yet stood up and went to the sidelines. Spaid, however, had the play of the night to close out the evening.
The 6′ 6″ junior went back in the pocket and looked right, finding wide out Casey Wilsoncroft behind the secondary, and let a pass loose that was a laser into the arms of Wilsoncroft for the touchdown.
That play gave a lot of hope to Janocko for the future with now only a week before the first game of the season.
“That’s something to build on. It’s a young team, and we have to be patient,” Janocko said.
One aspect to the team that is already known to be strong for the Bison is the running game. Last season, with Stratton battling injuries during most of the first half of the year, it gave some of the younger players a chance to show what they can do. No player stood out more than Seth Caldwell, who finished his freshman season with 800 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. This year he returns to the Bison looking to go over 1000 yards for the season. But he will be doing so while sharing running duties.
Players like Corey Shimmel, Dakota Shimmel, and Curtis Daub will be looking to get some playing time in the backfield, meaning there’s depth in the running game.
Janocko saw a lot of positives in the scrimmage, and knows the best thing for this team in 2014 is patience because they are a young squad.
“It’s going to take time. We’re going to have our growing pains, but I think we’re on the right track here and we just need to keep working,” Janocko said.
The start to the 2014 season is on the road for the Bison, as in a long way on the road. Clearfield will be loading up the buses for a drive not only out of town, but out of state. The Bison will make the drive to West Virginia to take on the Keyser Golden Tornado. Janocko acknowledged that it will be a tough game to win, but he feels that his squad can match up and put up a big fight to get the victory after 48 minutes of gridiron action.
“They are a really good football team. But, we played a good football team tonight and we held our own. Hopefully we’ll go down there and hold our own,” Janocko said.
Kickoff for the season-opener and the rest of the season will be at 7 p.m. The Bison only have four home games this season, with the first on September 12 when they host the Central Dragons.
2014 Clearfield Bison Football Schedule
All games are 7 p.m. Kickoff unless otherwise noted.
8/29 @ Keyser, WV
9/5 @ Penns Valley
9/19 @ Huntingdon
9/26 CENTRAL MOUNTAIN
10/10 @ Tyrone
10/17 @ Bald Eagle Area