The regular season has come to a close for the Clearfield Bison. A year that saw just as many ups as there were downs. Head coach Tim Janocko saw his team fall short of achieving the Mountain League championship, but the 2017 season was a success nevertheless.
The Bison finished the season at 6-4 ensuring, no matter what, it is a winning season once again for the red and black. But now, the focus goes to making a playoff run.
In order to make that playoff run last, the Bison must first pass a test they had earlier in the year.
The Class-AAAA bracket for District 5-6-9 has Clearfield as the No. 4 seed. This means for the first time in nearly a decade, the playoff run for the Bison will begin away from the Bison Sports Complex. It also means in order for that playoff run to continue, they must face a team that they faced during the season. Finally, it means they must face a team they were beaten by in the regular season.
Friday night, the Bison will make a second trip out to Bellefonte and a rematch against the Red Raiders at Rogers Stadium, the same venue where Bellefonte dished out a 55-28 thumping to the visiting Bison.
The two squads are focused on what they need to do, one hoping to hand a loss just like they did before, while another is out to avenge a loss.
RED RAIDER OFFENSE VS. BISON DEFENSE
For Clearfield, the focus is to know where No. 5 is at all times on every play. Dylan Deitrich is the captain of the ship when it comes to running the Bellefonte offense, and his stats back him up. With 1268 rushing yards, 1009 passing yards, and 28 total touchdowns, he is the offense for Bellefonte.
His supporting cast is just as strong. Dexter Gallishaw has 636 yards rushing this season, plus Cade Fortney has nearly 600 yards receiving as well.
In order for the Bison to succeed, they need to shut down No. 5 and force him to rely on his teammates to be successful, but even that will be a challenge because of the fact in the previous game between these two, Deitrich did not play as much due to coming into the game injured. This time, he’s at full strength, and that will cause issues for Clearfield should he get rolling.
Clearfield will need to rely on the push from its front four, and play from the linebackers to keep Bellefonte in check. Otherwise, it will be a repeat of the earlier game.
BISON OFFENSE VS. RED RAIDER DEFENSE
This is where it could be interesting since the Bison have been a team that can hurt defenses in multiple ways. Running the ball, they could rely on Ty Bender, or quarterback Isaac Rumery, to get the necessary yards. Even Brett Zattoni has come on the last few weeks as a player to watch from the backfield. Despite not having a 1000-yard rusher on the team for the season, Bender’s 736 yards have been hard earned.
Averaging just under six yards per carry, he can carry the load.
But when the rushing game is going, that is when the Bison can utilize Rumery’s arm to hurt defenses through the air. He’s completed 63 percent of his passes, throwing for 2442 yards, and 31 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. He also can hurt defenses with his legs, leading the team with seven rushing touchdowns.
Add in the receiving ability of Micah Heichel, Taye Lynch, Jacob Lezzer and Spencer Graham, the secondary of Bellefonte will have difficulty containing all at once.
Bellefonte must be alert for all aspects from the Bison, as their read-option has shown that it can work in all aspects, and that Clearfield can score quickly if the right play is drawn up.
This is a make-or-break game for both schools. Bellefonte surprised many when it came out and finished the year 8-2, taking home part of the Mountain League title. But now, the records that both teams acquired during the season don’t matter, as now it’s the second season. Each squad is approaching this week as though they are 0-0, but the difference is finishing 0-1 means the end of the season.
Neither team wants that, and neither do their communities. This will be the big game for the week, and looks to be a shootout even before the ball gets kicked off. That kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Bellefonte.