There is a strong chance that last year’s edition of the Clearfield Bison football team could never be equaled. Records fell, history was made, and memories were created with every game and every play.
Head coach Tim Janocko led that team to a 13-win season, the first in school history. They went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 2004, and in doing so won it’s second District-9 championship in three years. Without question, it was a team that fans will always remember.
But, Janocko is putting last year in the books, and is ready for a new year in Clearfield Bison football history. After all the summer workouts, the fall planning, and two scrimmages, Janocko feels his team is ready to go for the 2011 season.
“Every year is new, and we want to build on tradition. We’ve got a good bunch of kids this year, and those are the ones you love to coach,” Janocko said Friday night following the team’s scrimmage against Bellwood-Antis.
He speaks of his kids knowing that they lost some strong players from the previous year. They lost a trio of receivers in Derek Danver, Shane Harper and Brandon Hogue along with running back Derek Morgan. Clearfield also loses linemen and some linebackers. But, as seen during the scrimmage against Bellwood-Antis, this year’s Bison team has many strong players ready to fill those voids.
Right off the get-go, one of the players that Janocko was very pleased with was Beau Swales, who last year rushed for 691 yards on 96 carries with 11 touchdowns. Swales shared duty with Morgan, and showcased that he is very capable of handling the running game of Clearfield.
“Beau is a strong kid. He runs low and hard, and that’s what you want in a back,” Janocko said.
But, the Bison team seems to thrive on their passing game, and the key component to that attack is back, quarterback Curtis Frye. Last year, Frye completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, going 119 for 206 and threw for just over 1800 yards. His 19 touchdowns compared to only five interceptions gave him a strong passing rating.
Frye also returns as a threat to run the ball. He gained 304 yards on 110 carries in 2010, including nine touchdowns. During the scrimmage, Frye showed he still had his arm and legs as he escaped the pocket to gain yards, but also had the ability to unleash the deep ball for big chunks of yardage.
The targets of those passes have changed a bit, but the results were exactly the same.
One receiver that appeared to be the favorite target of Frye was Christian Lezzer. Twice early in the scrimmage, Frye launched the ball deep to the sophomore receiver and Lezzer was right there to catch and score. Look for him to be one of the breakout players for 2011.
Defensively, the Bisons were strong despite some miscues and missed tackles. However, Janocko is not worried because it was still early and he knew going in that there were some things that his team needed to clean up. Yet, when Bellwood-Antis threw in some trick plays, such as reverses and hidden draws, the defense was on target, despite the unexpected choice of plays.
“You know, our defense did some things that we couldn’t prepare for, and that was huge. I think they really showed how tough they are going to be,” Janocko said.
The schedule for Clearfield this year doesn’t have many surprises, except for only having four home games this season. The opponents are familiar, except for the long haul to Hamburg Area, and the thinking is the same for each game according to Janocko, which is battle hard for the victory. He is looking forward to the upcoming season, especially with the group of kids he has representing the Clearfield School District.
“Every game this year is going to be a war. These kids are ready to battle every week, every minute, and every down,” Janocko said. “They’re excited, and that gets us going.”
The 2011 season begins Friday night against the Central Dragons.
2011 Clearfield Bison Football Schedule
September 2: at Central
September 9: at Bald Eagle Area
September 16: PENNS VALLEY
September 23: MIFFLIN COUNTY
September 30: at Central Mountain
October 7: at Philipsburg-Osceola
October 14: at Hamburg Area
October 21: JUNIATA
October 28: at Bellefonte
November 4: HUNTINGDON
All games are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff