The longest stretch of road contests for the Clearfield Bisons begins this week. The 2011 season for coach Tim Janocko’s squad started with trips to Central and Bald Eagle Area. Both of those games resulted in victories.
Now, it’s the heart of the season and Clearfield is set to dig in their cleats for three weeks of tough football.
On the schedule first is the Central Mountain Wildcats. This game last year was another blowout by the Bisons as they were victorious by a count of 42-14. This year, as in 2010, Clearfield enters the game undefeated, but is facing off against a Wildcat team that only has one victory on the season.
Central Mountain is coming off their biggest loss of the season, a 61-28 thumping by St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. Despite that loss, the Wildcats are still an extremely potent team. Through four games, Central Mountain averages 107 yards passing and 205 yards rushing per game. Any team averaging over 300 yards a game is extremely dangerous, as was seen last week when Clearfield faced Mifflin County.
In the passing game, quarterback Von Walker is the key ingredient, as he has completed nearly 54 percent of his passes with 361 yards on the year so far. He only has three passing touchdowns, but also three interceptions. The Clearfield defense has shown that the secondary can create turnovers, as they captured three last week.
The part that Clearfield will have to be aware of is that Walker is also the leading rusher on the entire team. He has 603 rushing yards this season; the next closest Wildcat is Drew Alexander, who only has 74 yards through four games with one touchdown.
This could be either bad news for the Bison defense, or good news. It means in one aspect that one player has a majority of their offense, but at the same time means that another player could break out and surprise the Bisons.
On the opposite side, Clearfield is riding a wave of momentum coming off a huge 20-7 victory over Mifflin County. It was a game that included a lot of muddy conditions, but a lot of hard-nosed, smash mouth football.
Two key components thus far in the rushing game are Beau Swales and Curtis Frye. Swales continues to be the workhorse of the offense with 511 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving, with six total touchdowns. The senior back was slowed a bit last week thanks to the field conditions, however, Janocko continued to praise his senior running back, and will continue to do so with more strong performances as the weeks progress.
Quarterback Frye has not achieved the same statistics he did last year throwing the ball, only going 16 for 38 this season, and only 313 passing yards. However, he has only thrown one interception along with his six touchdown passes.
Frye is also a major two-dimensional player as he has run for 110 yards and scored four touchdowns.
But the ground game of Clearfield has expanded to more than just two key players. Expect Ryan Hertlein and Christian Lezzer to also have a healthy dose of the ball from the backfield, as both have over 160 rush yards thus far and each have two touchdowns on the ground.
The big difference maker for the Bisons, in Janocko’s eyes, could be Dylan Graham, especially on defense. Last week, Janocko switched Graham and Frye, putting Frye at the corner position with Graham moving to safety. That move led to Graham grabbing two interceptions, bringing him to four on the season.
Central Mountain is capable of making gains through the air, however if Graham gets a couple of interceptions, or even just one, the momentum could swing right into the Bisons’ favor.
It’s the mid-point of the season for both teams, and each are looking for victory. Central Mountain has put down a brand new turf playing field, which could be great for both teams in both rushing and passing. The Bisons and the Wildcats will be prepared for battle, but one team will walk away with another “W” on it’s record.
Kickoff at the Central Mountain high school is set for 7 p.m. ET.