HYDE — Senior night for high school football is a special moment for the graduating players. It’s a time to look back on the hard work over the last 3-4 years and realize the impact made on teammates, the school, community and families. It may be the last night on the home turf, but it’s often the most memorable.
For Clearfield, this season was rather unique, because the senior class was small compared to previous years. But, the young team fought through adversity to begin the year and made it a season forever remembered for being young, and hungry.
On the final night inside the Bison Sports Complex for the regular season, the Bison were ready to defend the turf one last time, facing off against their long-time rival, the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties, who were in a rebuilding season with a new coach, new schemes, and new offensive ideas.
It didn’t take long for P-O to see what the home team was all about, because even though there were very few upperclassmen on the roster, the younger players were showing they had learned a lot through a season where they saw many travel miles, and some tough heartbreaks, yet fought through it to once again be a top team in central Pennsylvania. In the end, the Bison were too much for the Mounties to try and corral, as Clearfield stood tall in their 50-3 victory.
“Philipsburg kids played hard the whole time, and that’s a credit to them. They didn’t let up throughout the whole game. We did get some kids in the beginning of the second quarter and get them some time, especially the seniors that don’t play a lot,” Head coach Tim Janocko said afterward. “Everyone got in the game, and everyone contributed.”
The contributions were vast from the Clearfield offense, as senior Eric Sellers closed out his regular season career with a three-touchdown performance, while Corey Shimmel broke out his own 100-yard game that included two scores.
After P-O took their opening drive into Bison territory, it stalled out on fourth down on a bad snap to quarterback Jake Anderson. Deciding to keep the game fundamental, the Bison would rely on Sellers and Seth Caldwell to grind the ball into the red zone against the Mountie defense.
On 1st and 10 at the P-O 24, quarterback Cody Spaid then looked to the air on his second attempt on the night, and went deep. His pass was almost too deep to Ryan Lezzer, but the young wide out hauled in the pass and managed to keep one foot in the black to put the Bison on the scoreboard. An extra point by senior kicker Spencer Herrington made it 7-0 nearly halfway into the first quarter.
It would not take long for Clearfield to get on the board again, as on the second play for P-O on the ensuing drive, Anderson looked over the middle but had his pass intercepted by Sellers, who returned it into the red zone, setting up Clearfield with a short field.
Two plays later, Sellers called his own number and scored his first touchdown of the game on an 8-yard push up the middle. The kick after made it 14-0 still in the first quarter.
Sellers again would call his own number after the defense forced a three-and-out on the next P-O possession, scoring on a quick 1-yard plunge. The point after made it 21-0 with still three quarters to play.
Clearfield would remain mostly mistake free through the first quarter of action, but had a scare to open the second quarter. After holding to another three-and-out, Josh Sorbera was ready to field the punt from Aaron Boumerhi, even calling for the fair catch. But, the ball went out of his hands, and the P-O special teams were able to recover the fumble right near mid-field, breathing some life into the squad.
Unfortunately, they could not do much on the drive and after failing to convert on fourth down, gave the ball back to Clearfield.
The Bison would keep it simple on the drive, opening with a run by Jake Wingate of 21 yards, and finishing with Sellers finding a gap in the secondary to score a 24-yard touchdown run on the fourth play from scrimmage. Another kick made it 28-0, and still with over half a quarter to play in the first half.
At that point, Janocko began substituting in some of his other players that didn’t see much action on a normal basis, trying to get them some game experience and allowing his other players to get some rest and not risk injury.
The changes weren’t noticed from afar because Clearfield still was seeing success as their second drive in the second quarter would see success, this time thanks to Shimmel who scored his first touchdown on the night from four yards out. Herrington saw his extra point blocked, leaving the score 34-0.
P-O did seem to find some rhythm on their final drive of the first half, making it all the way down into the red zone. But once inside the 10-yard line, they faltered with a couple tackles for loss and a sack, and elected to let Boumerhi attempt the 37-yard field goal. But, despite having the height and length, the kick would sail right, and P-O headed to the locker room still with nothing on the scoreboard.
After the break, Clearfield kept things simple on the opening drive, as after a strong kickoff return by Lezzer left the Bison with a short field, it was runs by Caldwell and Sellers that helped set up Shimmel’s second rushing touchdown of the night, this one from 15-yards out. Herrington this time was true, and the 41-0 score locked in the running clock for the remainder of the game.
That drive would be the final one of the game for the first-team offense, and the younger, jayvee squad would take the field after the Mounties would go three-and-out once again.
But, the younger team didn’t seem to show that on their first drive as the offensive line got penetration to get the ball moving. But, on the sidelines the team was fired up for who was doing the bulk of the carrying, senior running back Curtis Daub. While Sellers and Caldwell have been the main rushers this season, it was Daub behind the scenes according to Janocko that was doing a lot of hard work, and it was noticed by his teammates. At the end of the drive, Daub would punch the ball in for his first touchdown of the season. Herrington’s kick made it 48-0 as the home sideline still was cheering for their senior classmate.
“He does (a lot of work); it’s what makes us a team. Kids like that are the heart of your team, and he blocks his tail off, does things in special teams, and does things in scout team at practice,” Janocko said of Daub. “That’s what makes a team; that’s why the kids were excited to see him get in the end zone.”
Not to be outdone, the underclassmen decided that they also wanted to show they could score when defending their home turf. On 1st and 10 for P-O after the touchdown, Anderson got a bad snap from his center, and that forced him in retreat. He would recover the fumble, but unfortunately it would be in the end zone, giving the Bison a safety, plus the ball back with a 50-0 lead with 4:14 remaining in the third.
That score would be the final one for Clearfield during the regular season.
P-O would finally get on the scoreboard just after the final quarter started thanks to Boumerhi’s right foot, as he would kick a 26-yard field goal to make it 50-3, but at that point the game was long over.
As the seniors stood on the field taking photos with cheerleaders and family members, Janocko had an opportunity to reflect on the team this season and all they have faced since the opening kickoff of the year, and how they have grown and changed since the first week.
“We started out the season with some adversity, having to go down to West Virginia to play a really good team, and the schedule was set up to be really tough early on. But we got through, and we’ve got some really great players here, and had some really great players the last couple years,” Janocko said. “It was ‘Clearfield’s going to be rebuilding and Clearfield’s down, and these kids didn’t want to hear that.
“They fought and I’m very proud of them. We fought really hard to be where we’re at, we have a piece of the MAC, we’re 7-2, and going after a district championship next week, so they’re knocking the goals down one by one.”
After completing the goals of having a winning season and getting a piece of the Mountain League title, as Janocko said, the next goal is winning the District IX Championship. They will have that opportunity next weekend as they will take on the Punxsutawney Chucks. The game, unlike the last nine weeks, will be a Saturday afternoon contest. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. next Saturday, November 1, and will be played in Dubois.
SCORE BY QUARTER
P-O 0 0 0 3 – 3
Clearfield 21 13 16 0 – 50
BISON: 20-yard pass from Spaid to Lezzer (Herrington kick), 6:24
BISON: 8-yard run by Sellers (Herrington kick), 4:56
BISON: 1-yard run by Sellers (Herrington kick), 0:58
BISON: 24-yard run by Sellers (Herrington kick), 7:30
BISON: 4-yard run by Shimmel (Herrington kick blocked), 3:08
BISON: 15-yard run by Shimmel (Herrington kick), 10:20
BISON: 1-yard run by Daub (Herrington kick), 4:40
BISON: Safety, 4:14
MOUNTIES: 26-yard field goal by Boumerhi, 11:55
First Downs: 5/13
Rush Yards: 1/168
Pass Yards: 49/66
Total Yards: 50/214
Time of Possession: 18:18/29:42
P-O: Anderson-19 carries, 14 yards; Laird-4 carries, 3 yards; Webster-2 carries, 1 yard; Team-2 carries, (-17) yards.
Clearfield: Shimmel-12 carries, 101 yards, 2 TD; Caldwell-8 carries, 47 yards; Norris-8 carries, (-39) yards; Sellers-7 carries, 61 yards, 3 TD; Daub-4 carries, 35 yards, TD; Lezzer-1 carry, 6 yards; Team-2 carries, (-43) yards.
P-O: Anderson-6 for 14, 49 yards, INT.
Clearfield: Spaid-4 for 5, 66 yards, TD.
P-O: Hughes-2 catches, 2 yards; Patrick-1 catch, 33 yards; Kost-1 catch, 7 yards; Moore-1 catch, 7 yards; Belinda-1 catch, 2 yards.
Clearfield: Sellers-1 catch, 24 yards; Lezzer-1 catch, 20 yards, TD; Kovalick-1 catch, 14 yards; Lansberry-1 catch, 8 yards.