Senior Night seems to have mixed emotions for everyone involved. The Clearfield Bison have reached that point of the season where it will be the final regular season game of the 2013 season at the Bison Sports Complex. There will be a buzz in the air for the players that have given so much to the game inside the stadium, as they experienced playing on both the old, beat up grass field and then witnessed the multi-million dollar installation of the current field turf surface. This senior class is on the verge of being part of four consecutive Mountain League titles, and possibly four District IX championships.
But before any of that can happen, the focus is simply on the next game, the next challenge. The Bison are prepared for their final home contest, as they will be welcoming in the Bald Eagle Area Eagles, which stand at a record of 4-3.
A week ago, both squads were part of two very intense, very close contests. Clearfield had their epic encounter with Tyrone, which came down to the final Bison drive and Spencer Herrington’s right foot. In possibly the defining game for Clearfield, they defeated the Golden Eagles by a final of 27-26.
For the visitors, it was a case of holding on, rather than coming back.
Bald Eagle took on Huntingdon at their home field, and by halftime held what seemed to be a strong 49-28 lead. However, the Eagles would not score a single point in the second half, while Huntingdon got things rolling, and began their comeback. However, Bald Eagle somehow held on for a very close 49-47 victory, one that almost slipped right through their fingers.
The Eagles cannot afford to do that against the Bison. Bald Eagle needs to use their balanced offense to exploit gaps in the Clearfield defense, and do it very often in order to keep Clearfield on its heels.
Statistically, Bald Eagle is a strong offensive team, averaging 135 yards passing and 149 yards rushing per game. Senior tailback Dakota Bartley leads the team with 467 yards on the ground, with six touchdowns. However, their second-leading scorer in the ground game, quarterback Jason Jones, seems to be the one getting the call when it’s crunch time down near the goal line. Statistically, he has negative yards rushing, but that is due to the fact that when the yardage is close, he is the one that gets the ball, and does his job by scoring.
Jones also has been extremely strong passing the football, 44 of 70 for 786 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Last week it was shown that the Bison defense does have weaknesses, and when exploited it can be devastating, and take a lot of momentum away. But the Eagles will have to be spot on all night long, and push the limits of coach Tim Janocko and his staff.
For the Bison, the biggest thing they need to do is continue the same style of play that has gotten them to this point in the season. With an average of 350 yards per game rushing, and just 85 passing, the Eagles will need to somehow, someway, stop the run.
That is extremely difficult with three tough running backs, and now a new rushing scheme. For the last two weeks, senior quarterback Christian Lezzer has played more of a tailback or wide receiver, letting junior Eric Sellers call the signals. It has worked as after last week, Lezzer is over the 1000-yard mark rushing this season, leading the team with 18 touchdowns.
What comes into question though is senior Tyler Stratton. He’s rushed for 759 yards thus far in 2013, with 12 touchdowns, but the biggest issue he’s faced this season is injuries.
In the opening game of the season, he only ran three times after suffering a setback in a scrimmage the week before. Then against Huntingdon he again went down and came out early. But the biggest blow came last week, as on the first play in the second quarter, he went down, and needed help both getting up and being taken off the field. An ankle and foot injury sidelined him for the remainder of the night. Whether he goes or not for his final regular season game at the BCS is unclear, but if he is able, he certainly will try.
If not, Seth Caldwell will likely get the call to play at tailback, which has not been a bad decision all season. The freshman has been one of, if not the most exciting, player to watch when he’s in the game. His 565 yards rushing and five touchdowns, along with an INT-return TD a few weeks ago against Central Mountain, makes him third on the team in scoring.
When there has been a need to pass the ball in the last few weeks, Sellers has shown he is capable of putting the ball where it needs to be. He is currently 10 for 14 this year, with one score, and no interceptions. In fact, his quarterback rating is higher than Lezzer’s, which shows the switch two weeks ago was a smart one.
Sellers can definitely handle the first-team offense, and will still play a big factor in this week’s game.
Emotions will be high as parents and fans will honor a superb senior class of players, cheerleaders, and band members before the game. There will be tears of sadness to start the game, but the hope for Clearfield is that the night ends with tears of joy, and another victory.
The fall chill will still be in the air, as the cold air moves in, making it appropriate for the “Boys of Fall” that are taking the field. Kickoff at the BCS will be at 7 p.m.
|08/30||ST. JOAN OF ARC||45 – 7||1 – 0|
|09/06||PENNS VALLEY||37 – 15||2 – 0|
|09/13||@ Central||35 – 20||3 – 0|
|09/20||HUNTINGDON||58 – 30||4 – 0|
|09/27||@ Central Mountain||49 – 13||5 – 0|
|10/04||@ Bellefonte||49 – 13||6 – 0|
|10/11||TYRONE||27 – 26||7 – 0|
|10/18||BALD EAGLE AREA|