Last season, when the Clearfield Bison entered the playoff picture, they were going in with the hope of shocking everyone and pulling just one upset. That is not the case this year, as Tim Janocko’s 2018 squad is coming off its first undefeated season since 2013. The 10-0 Bison are now not concerned with what occurred over the last 10 weeks of action.
The “second season” begins this Friday night, and one loss means the jerseys no longer get worn, and the cleats no longer get tied.
For the Bison, they don’t want that first loss to come in the first round of the playoffs. To start the 2018 run to Hershey, they enter the District 6-9 Bracket for Class 4A as the No. 1 seed. Their opposition to start the post season is a familiar foe, as they have spent the last three seasons facing one another as the first test of the year. The opposition to start the 2018 playoffs is the long time rival DuBois Beavers.
These two over the last three seasons have squared off in both some tight-scoring affairs, and one that had a dominating aspect. The Bison hold a 2-1 edge in those games, outscoring the Beavers 69-33.
Both DuBois and Clearfield have aspirations of continuing their season for another week, with one wanting to stun the crowd with an upset.
Let’s look at both sides of the ball, and what to expect from each.
DuBois Offense vs. Clearfield Defense
For the Beavers, in order to have any momentum right away, they have to find a way to get through a strong Bison defense that has been on lock down for the last two months. With the lone exception of the Penns Valley game in week 2, the Bison have kept their opponents to 21 points or less, including the last two weeks of shut outs.
DuBois averages close to 300 yards of offense per game, split almost 50-50 between on the ground and through the air.
They will need to rely heavily on the rushing game of Eric Schneider in order to open up the passing attack. The senior dual-position player has 722 yards rushing through the first 10 games, with three games of 100+ yards, and three touchdowns. At times, the Bison defense has been exposed to being beaten thanks to the ground attack, such as their game against Penns Valley. DuBois, at the same time, has another rusher to watch for in Dylan McCluskey, to take some relief off Schneider’s legs.
McCluskey has rushed for 394 yards on the season, but he leads the team with six touchdowns. When he is in the game, the Bison defense needs to be aware as he can break one at any moment.
The ground game will need to be strong as the Beavers passing game this year has been average, at best. Quarterback Alex Kovalyak is only 64 for 138 on the year, with a QBR of 66.8. He’s thrown for 1024 yards, but is even on both touchdowns and interceptions with eight a piece.
Against the secondary that Clearfield has with the likes of Taye Lynch, Spencer Graham, and Jake Lezzer, trying to complete the deep pass or even one short will be a very tough task.
For DuBois, although statistics may not show it, the way they need to beat the Bison defense is not so much scoring, but having to due with the clock. The longer they hold the ball, the less time Clearfield will have to try and make a comeback or pull even. That is one chance that DuBois has, and if they can capitalize on it, the Bison fans will be in for a stunning night.
Clearfield Offense vs. DuBois Defense
What can be said about the Bison offense in 2018 that has not already been said? There’s been explosive moments, record-setting performances, and ball control through 10 weeks of action.
It all begins with one young man that already has a bright future: senior quarterback, and Penn State bound, Isaac Rumery.
The three-year starter has become the elite quarterback in District IX, this year setting the all-time passing record for Clearfield, a record that has yet to see a conclusion. Although he has not passed for as many yards as he did a season ago, the statistics for 2018 are startling. He’s thrown 97 completions in 138 attempts, 2080 yards, 24 touchdowns, two interceptions, and has a QBR of 145.9. Add in the dual threat of being a runner, as he’s run for 418 yards and seven touchdowns, and he is an all-around player the Bison have rallied around.
Rumery’s offensive line has made it easy for him to pass the ball, especially when it’s Taye Lynch and Jake Lezzer as the main targets. The two have combined for over 85 percent of his completed passes and yards, and together have 20 touchdowns between them.
When Rumery is not throwing or using his legs, it’s a dual-running attack that has eaten away at the opposing defenses.
Brett Zattoni and Caleb Freeland have emerged not as a “Thunder and Lightning” running pair, but more like dual lightning strikes. Each have powerful legs, but are elusive. Zattoni and Freeland have run for 780 and 723 yards, respectively, this year, with Freeland holding the touchdown advantage, 17 to 11. That running game has helped slow down games that have been either decided or need shortened, and both have delivered on more than one occasion.
Clearfield’s path to victory is simple: just do what has been done all season.
The first round of the playoffs, with Clearfield being the No. 1 seed and DuBois being No. 4, will take place on the higher seed’s home turf. So, that means Clearfield will get one last taste of the Bison Sports Complex for the 2018 season come Friday night. Kickoff for the game is slated for 7 p.m.