If there two are words to truly describe the 2011 Clearfield Bisons football team, it’s “road warriors.” Through the first eight games of the year, the Bisons have only played three home games. Every other game has seen the team wear their road white jerseys.
But in those other five games, Clearfield has only lost one, that coming against Philipsburg-Osceola in a back-and-forth contest. This coming Friday night, the Bisons will be playing their final road game of the season. The opposition this week comes in the Red Raiders of Bellefonte, who hold a record of 1-7.
It’s another test for Clearfield as the push for the post season is in full swing, but Clearfield is not looking that far ahead. Yes, they hold a two-game lead in the Class AAA playoff standings over St. Marys, but the focus this week will be on Bellefonte.
When Clearfield hosted this game last year, it was the defense that kept the undefeated season alive as they not only shut down Bellefonte, but also shut them out with the final score of 34-0.
That’s not to say this year’s game could be different, however the two teams are on opposite ends of the success spectrum. The Bisons come into this game winners of their last two games. The way they have won those games has been opposite of what Clearfield has been known for in previous years. This year’s edition of the Bisons have been more of a running team than a passing team.
An average of nearly 300 yards rushing per game has led the Bisons to winning the old-school way, led by senior running back Beau Swales. He has 1244 yards rushing this year with 17 touchdowns to his credit.
The other big rushers this year for Clearfield have been Christian Lezzer and Ryan Hertlein, who have also been able to take some pressure off Swales as they have combined for 666 yards and 11 touchdowns.
All these rushing statistics have taken some focus off the passing game as quarterback Curtis Frye has been rather quiet throwing the ball. Last week, he only attempted two passes, one of them being intercepted. Part of the reason was because of the muddy field conditions, but that has been common during most of the year for the senior signal caller. Frye has only 579 yards passing, completing only 31 percent of his attempts.
Clearfield is still capable of breaking the passing game open at any time, but the ground game is what sets that up. If the rushing game begins to work early, it could mean a long night for the Red Raiders.
If Bellefonte is to have any strong chance at competing with Clearfield, it will be important for them to establish a run game, which has been difficult all season. The Red Raiders are averaging just over 60 yards a game on the ground, the lowest in Central Pennsylvania. At the same time, they have been having difficulty trying to hold off the offensive attack of their opponents.
Last week against Central Mountain, Bellefonte had trouble stopping their lead rusher, Von Walker, as he rumbled for 197 yards and five touchdowns in a 39-3 pounding.
Bellefonte is led by Colin Turner in the ground game, as he has the most rushing yards for the team with 231 yards on the season, while quarterback Jordan Fye has completed just under 50 percent of his passes this season. That has been the bright spot for a Red Raider team that has struggled all year offensively.
The defense has been struggling all season, as all of their losses have seen the opponents score at least 35 points. In three of those games they gave up over 50 points, while only scoring 11 points total in those contests.
Bellefonte will have to put up a major fight in order to win this game, but will put their helmets on and treat the game as if it was the first one of the season. Clearfield has not looked ahead to a game later in the season, as they have taken each game week by week, treating each the same way.
Playoff implications are on the line in this contest, and is going to be a good game between these two schools. A fall chill will be in the air with temperatures dropping into the middle 30’s, perfect weather for high school football.
Kickoff at the Bellefonte Area High School is set for 7 p.m.