It doesn’t get any easier for the Clearfield Bison football team as the weeks of the regular season of high school football wind down. The last three weeks of the season have seen this year’s team go 2-1, and do so while being the visiting team.
This week is another test for the Bisons, but after three consecutive away games, the team makes its return to the Bison Sports Complex. Making the journey to take on the home-standing Bisons is the Juniata Indians, who come into this week’s contest at 5-2. This game last year between these two teams was a walk-over as Clearfield defeated Juniata 42-14.
Unfortunately for Clearfield, the Indians are coming into this game riding a wave of momentum.
Juniata has won their last four games, outscoring their opponents 174-28. That means there’s a lot of offense to deal with, and the defense of the Indians is extremely tough to break through.
How are the Indians doing this? Simply put, Juniata wins games the old-school way…run the ball, run the clock, and score. Juniata averages just over 319 yards rushing on the ground, and have spread the ball out between 11 different rushers. Five of those players have over 100 yards thus far on the season, but three in particular could give the Bisons trouble.
Senior Cody Saner, sophomore Neil Bodley, and senior Adam Goshorn have been the backs the Indians relied on the most to get them to that record. Each average over seven yards a carry, with Bodley averaging close to 10, and have combined for 24 of the Indians 32 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Having this 1-2-3 combination of backs means Juniata doesn’t throw the ball very much, and has not needed to.
Quarterback Colton Shertzer only has 351 passing yards this season, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Indians don’t even try to pass the ball during the game. That may not be a bad thing for Juniata as they’ve shown thus far that the ground attack is their rock, and will be once again on Friday night.
When it comes to Juniata defending Clearfield, the Indians may as well look in a mirror as this year’s edition of the Bisons has been more of a running team than a passing team.
That seems to be doing well as they have only one loss to their record, that coming two weeks ago against another strong running Philipsburg-Osceola team. Averaging 284 yards a game on the ground, Clearfield has shown that the passing attack isn’t just what they are, and this season it has proved to be very effective.
The statistics for Beau Swales alone say how effective the ground game for Clearfield has been. The senior running back has almost 1100 yards rushing this season, averaging 156 a game, and 16 touchdowns.
Should Swales get his legs working early in the game, it could mean a long night for the Juniata defense.
But unlike the Indians, the Bisons have shown that the passing game can be effective when used. Despite having lower-than-average statistics this season, Curtis Frye has been very strong when he has elected to pass the ball. Frye has six touchdowns and only four interceptions when he has thrown this year, only completing 32 percent of his passes.
It’s a celebratory night at the Bison Sports Complex as homecoming festivities will be on the schedule and also will see a return of Alumni Bison Band members to join this year’s Bison Band on the field. A chance of showers could dampen some of the celebrating, as well as the cool temperatures, but it will make for a very good night of high school football.
Kickoff for Friday’s contest is at 7 p.m.