Week 5: Clearfield (3-1) at Brockway (4-0)

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First off, I know they’re this week’s opponent, but let’s acknowledge the awesomeness of Brockway’s logo.  The Rovers have my vote as one of District 9’s great logos.  Of course, the best logo district-wide continues to be the Bison wrestling program’s…

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Bison wearing headgear?  An awesome dog?  Two great logos.  But let’s get back to this week’s game.

Clearfield and Brockway have played only twice all-time: a 24-21 Rover win in 2006 and a 28-17 win for the Bison last season.  The unfamiliarity the two schools share with one another extends to their schedules, even though Clearfield and Brockway are less than 40 miles apart.  Brockway, a Class A school with a male enrollment of 142 (per the PIAA), plays in the Allegheny Mountain League, which is comprised of District 9 teams across the north-central part of the state.  Clearfield, meanwhile, is a AAA school (319 males) that competes as the only District 9 team in the mostly D6 Mountain League.

So far, the Rovers have dominated their four opponents.  Smethport (56-0), Coudersport (50-14), Cameron County (54-0), and Otto-Eldred (42-7) have all fallen to Brockway.  The Rovers and Bison share no common opponents; in fact, Clearfield has never played any of the four teams Brockway has faced so far in 2015.  However, the Rovers are a very strong team that enters Week 5 ranked 10th in Class A by Pennsylvania Football News and as a “Team to Watch” by the Harrisburg Patriot-News.  Additionally, Brockway sits one spot ahead of Clearfield in the D9Sports.com district-wide rankings, as the two schools trail first-place Karns City.

After decades of playing Punxsutawney and Brookville, Friday’s game will be the first time the Bison travel to Jefferson County in the regular season since Week 4 of 2007 (a 42-7 win at Punxsy).

See also:

D9Sports.com Preview

NOTES

  • The Rovers’ leading rusher is Tony Isabella, who has rushed for 520 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.  However, D9Sports.com reports that Isabella may not play Friday due to an injury sustained in last week’s game.
  • In last year’s matchup, the Bison held Brockway to just 24 yards rushing on 22 carries.  The Rovers were efficient through the air, going 18 for 25 and 167 yards passing.  Clearfield led in total yards, 327-191.
  • Also in last year’s game, Rover Jarrett Esposito made a 47-yard field goal, which appears to be the longest field goal ever made in a game against the Bison.  For comparison, the longest field goal made by a Clearfield player since 1993 is 37 yards by Spencer Herrington against Tyrone in 2013.  Clearfield kicking statistics for years before 1993 are still being compiled.
  • Junior Matt Collins leads the Bison with 71 tackles this year.  According to MaxPreps, he also leads the state of Pennsylvania.  Christian Rumery ranks 7th statewide with 61 stops.  Rumery has 124 career tackles while Collins has 94.
  • With 89 yards passing against Huntingdon, Bison quarterback Cody Spaid became Clearfield’s 16th player with at least 1,500 career passing yards.  Spaid now has 1,557 for his career.
  • Junior Seth Caldwell currently sits at 11th on the school’s career rushing yard list.  Caldwell’s 2,290 yards are 1 behind Jimmy Lewis (1995-1998), 2 behind Derek Morgan (2007-2010), and 23 behind Kenny Wisor (1996-1998).  Twenty four yards against Brockway would put Caldwell in 8th place.
  • Clearfield enters Friday’s game with an all-time record of 559-461-38.  Brockway sits at 453-356-37.  All-time records for all schools in Pennsylvania entering the 2015 season can be found here.

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Week 4: Clearfield (2-1) vs. Huntingdon (2-1)

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In the 1998 PIAA state playoffs, Huntingdon and Clearfield played one of the most entertaining – and high-scoring – games in Pennsylvania playoff history.  After drawing to a 28-28 halftime tie at Punxsutawney’s Jack LaMarca Memorial Stadium, Huntingdon took advantage of a number of Bison turnovers to come away with a 68-34 win, ending Clearfield’s season at 11-1.

At the time, the 102 total points scored made it the highest-scoring PIAA first round game ever in the AAA classification.  Clearfield gained 458 yards on 75 plays, but gave up 473 to the Bearcats, who averaged an even 11 yards per play on the night.  The dueling offenses put up more impressive statistics:

  • Clearfield did not trail all season (11.5 games) until Huntingdon’s Chad Brindle had a 57-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.  The Bearcats would outscore Clearfield 40-6 in the second half.
  • Brindle gained 243 yards on the ground in just 15 carries, good for more than 16 yards per carry.  He scored both of his touchdowns in the third quarter.
  • Jimmy Lewis is still the only Bison to ever rush for 200 yards in a game in which Clearfield lost.  He rushed 28 times for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • Kenny Wisor gave Clearfield two rushers with over 100 yards, gaining 111 on 18 carries.
  • Huntingdon quarterback Paul Kozak completed just 6 of 14 passes, but 4 completions went for scores and he passed for 198 yards.

Huntingdon would beat Perry the next week, 44-18, before falling to state runner-up Moon, 21-0, in the PIAA Western Final.  The Bison’s 1998 season would end that night, as would the careers of Wisor and Lewis, who graduated as the program’s 2nd and 4th all-time leaders in rushing yards, respectively.

NOTES

  • The 2015 Bearcats have earned wins over Mount Union (17-13) and Bellefonte (27-6).  Huntingdon fell to Tyrone last week, 42-27.
  • Friday will be the 26th meeting between the Bison and Bearcats.  The two teams first met in 1914, a game Clearfield won, 54-0.  The all-time series is tied 12-12-1.
  • Huntingdon is the second-oldest opponent on Clearfield’s 2015 schedule.  Other years of the first meeting between Clearfield and its Mountain League opponents:
    • Central – 1981
    • Tyrone – 1925
    • Bellefonte – 1913
    • Penns Valley – 2007
    • Bald Eagle Area – 1964
    • Philipsburg-Osceola – 1956
      • Philipsburg HS – 1909
      • Osceola Mills HS – 1914
    • In addition, Clearfield first played Brockway in 2006.  This year was the team’s first meeting with Week 1 opponent, Fort Hill (MD).
  • Seth Caldwell passed 2,000 career rushing yards in last week’s victory at Central.  Caldwell now sits at 2,096 career yards, 147 behind Pat Davis (1975-77) for 12th in program history.
  • Ryan Lezzer now has 51 career receptions, giving the Bison 19 players with at least 50 catches in a career.  Lezzer is just 23 receiving yards from reaching 1,000 for his career.
  • Matt Collins and Christian Rumery continue to be tackling machines for the Bison.  Collins leads the team with 53 (17.7/game), while Rumery is second with 43 (14.3/game).
  • Huntingdon entered the season ranked 13th in Pennsylvania history in program wins, with 668.  They now sit at 670-355-39 in 1,064 games.  Clearfield entered 2015 tied for 53rd with Mechanicsburg with 556 all-time wins.  Clearfield enters this Friday’s game with a program record of 558-461-38 in 1,057 games.  All-time wins for each program in Pennsylvania (active and defunct) entering 2015 can be found here.

Week 3: Clearfield (1-1) at Central (2-0)

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John Wiley’s first game as Clearfield’s head coach didn’t go very well.  The Bison traveled to Roaring Spring to face Central in the 1981 season opener and went home on the wrong end of a 26-6 loss.  In that game, Clearfield ran 42 plays for just 117 yards, including an average of only 1.6 yards per carry.  Wiley had brought the Wishbone to Clearfield after the Bison had successfully run the Delaware Wing-T under previous coach Kevin Karrs for several seasons.  However, the former assistant at North Hills was unable to get the Bison moving offensively in Clearfield’s first-ever matchup with Central.

That wouldn’t be a problem when the two teams met the following year.  On September 3, 1982, the Dragons traveled to Hyde to face a much different Clearfield team.  The 1982 Bison would finish 9-2, an enormous improvement over Wiley’s first team, which went 2-8-1.  Against Central in the rematch, Clearfield showed impressive balance by rushing for 201 yards and passing for 213 more.  Bison quarterback Bob Sunderland threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as Clearfield rolled to a 40-0 win.  The Bison defense picked off three passes, recovered three fumbles, and held Central to 86 yards of offense in a game that was never in doubt.  The game was the first 40-point win by a Clearfield team since a 45-0 win over Tyrone in 1958 and featured nearly half as many points as the Bison had scored in 11 games the previous season (87).

Wiley adjusted his offense for the 1982 season, moving to what The Progress called a “modified Pro-I.”  Sunderland – who would go on to play football at the Naval Academy – hit Randy Learish with a 76-yard touchdown pass and then threw a 47-yard touchdown to Dean Spingola.  In between, John Rockmore rushed for a touchdown, giving Clearfield a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Just before halftime, Learish intercepted a Central pass and then caught a 52-yard touchdown on the ensuing play.  He finished the game with 2 catches for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns to go along with two interceptions on defense.  Jamie Madden – a transfer from Altoona – scored next for Clearfield on a 42-yard run and the Bison closed the scoring with a 13-yard pass from backup quarterback John Spingola to Jim Sturniolo.

Clearfield and Central wouldn’t meet again until 2008, but the two teams have met each year since then.  The matchup seemingly always has major Mountain League title implications and this year is no different after Central’s 48-14 blowout win over Tyrone last week.  The Bison hold a 7-2 advantage in the series, but the Dragons broke Clearfield’s 27-game conference and 21-game home winning streaks with a 35-28 victory at the Bison Sports Complex last season.

NOTES

  • In last year’s win over Clearfield, Central rushed 28 times for -1 yard, the lowest rushing output for a team to ever beat the Bison.
  • Central has won both of its games in 2015 in dominating fashion.  In addition to its win over Tyrone last Friday, the Dragons beat Tussey Mountain 55-13 in Week 1.
  • Junior running back Alex Hoenstine has scored 11 touchdowns in four different ways in Central’s first two games.  He has averaged over 12 yards per carry while rushing for seven scores, has caught a pair of touchdown passes, and has returned both a punt and a fumble for touchdowns.
  • Friday’s game will mark one of the rare times when opposing coaches will have coached over 300 games apiece.  Central’s Dave Baker has gone 161-184-11 in his 356 career games, while Tim Janocko has gone 239-102-3 in 344 games since 1985.
  • Clearfield’s Matt Collins has 38 tackles over the first two games of the 2015 season.  For comparison, when Seth Ford set the school record for tackles in a season with 125 in 2013, he made 14 stops in the first two games.
  • Now sitting at 1,388 career passing yards, Cody Spaid has moved into 16th place on the school list.  He is 458 yards from tying Mike Merritt (1986-1988) for 15th place.
  • With 1,977 yards, Seth Caldwell is just two yards behind Jarrin Campman (2005-2008) for 13th place on the career rushing list.  With 23 yards against Central, Caldwell will become the 13th Bison to rush for 2,000 career yards.
  • Friday’s game will be the 1,057th in program history.  The Bison are 557-461-38 all-time since 1904.

Week 2: Clearfield (0-1) vs. Penns Valley (0-1)

Clearfield and Penns Valley first played in 2007, making the matchup the youngest of any of the Bison’s Mountain League series.  Clearfield has averaged 39.7 points per game against the Rams and has never lost in 8 all-time meetings.  However, the first time the two teams ever played was easily the closest game in the series.

The 2007 Bison entered the Week 10 matchup in Spring Mills at 6-3, needing to win the game in order to clinch a home game the following week in the District 9 playoffs.  Penns Valley was 8-1 and featured a stifling defense, one that posted four shutouts and allowed just 6.1 points per game over the whole season (the Rams would finish 8-3).  No team scored more than 14 points against them all season, but PV struggled offensively, only breaking 20 points twice.

Clearfield didn’t play its sharpest game of the season, losing four fumbles, adding an interception, and averaging only 4.6 yards per play.  Penns Valley scored first on a 68-yard fumble return, but Jarrin Campman tied things up later in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run.  Neither offense was able to do much most of the night, but the Rams went ahead on a touchdown run in the second quarter.  However, the extra point was blocked, which would prove crucial later in the game.

Trailing 13-7 at the start of the 4th quarter, Bison Toby Young blocked his 5th punt in two seasons, setting Clearfield up on the PV 33 yard line.  Campman later scored from 12 yards out, giving Clearfield a 14-13 lead.  Penns Valley’s final chance went for naught as a 35-yard game-winning field goal attempt was short with just 11 seconds remaining in the game.

Campman provided most of the offense for the Bison, rushing 27 times for 143 yards and both Clearfield touchdowns.  The team would fall the next week to St. Marys in the District 9 semifinals, 30-14.  The 2007 season set up a very strong 2008 Bison squad, one that went 10-3 and beat City League champion Brashear before falling to Strong Vincent – then the state’s No. 2 team – in the state playoffs.

NOTES FOR FRIDAY’S GAME

  • Bison quarterback Cody Spaid has thrown for 536 yards in his two career starts against out-of-state opponents.  Spaid threw for 260 yards at Keyser (WV) last season and had 276 yards last Friday against Fort Hill (MD).  He surpassed 1,000 career passing yards – he currently has 1,274 – making him the 20th Bison to achieve that milestone.  Spaid also tied Stu Wiggins (1950-52) with his 13th career touchdown pass.
  • Penns Valley fell last week to Juniata, 75-12.  No team in Pennsylvania surrendered more points in Week 1 than the Rams.
  • Matt Collins’ 22 tackles against Fort Hill tied the school record for tackles in a game.  Collins is now tied with Seth Ford, who made 22 stops against Punxsutawney in 2012.
  • Now sitting at 1,818 career rushing yards, Seth Caldwell passed Dave Spingola (1978-80) for 14th on Clearfield’s all-time list.  Next up for Caldwell is Campman, who had 1,979 yards from 2005-08.
  • With 940 career receiving yards, junior Ryan Lezzer needs just 60 more to become the Bison’s 16th player to reach 1,000 in a career.
  • Clearfield’s 49-14 loss to Fort Hill was the team’s worst defeat since a 44-7 loss to Berwick in the 2013 state playoffs.  Clearfield hadn’t fallen by 35 points in the regular season since a 52-6 loss to Bald Eagle Area in Week 3 of the 1991 season.  Friday was only Clearfield’s second loss in its past 28 home games.
  • Finally, it has nothing to do with this week’s game, but here’s a video from YouTube showing parts of Clearfield’s 1991 home game against Lock Haven.  The Bison fell 41-14, but it’s a fun video to watch, featuring a Bison team wearing red helmets and pants playing a school that closed nearly 20 years ago.  Check it out here.

Week 1: Clearfield vs. Fort Hill (MD)

The 112th year of Clearfield Bison football opens up Friday as the team welcomes the Fort Hill Sentinels from Cumberland, Maryland.  The game will mark the 5th time Clearfield has played an out-of-state team, all of which have occurred since 1996:

1996: Clearfield 21, Riverdale Baptist (MD) 14

2012: Clearfield 35, St. Joan of Arc (Ontario) 20

2013: Clearfield 45, St. Joan of Arc (Ontario) 7

2014: Keyser (WV) 43, Clearfield 30

Today’s preview will include a look back at Clearfield’s first game against a team from outside of Pennsylvania, the 1996 meeting with Riverdale Baptist.


Riverdale Baptist – a school similar in size to Clearfield located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland – traveled to the Bison Sports Complex on September 27, 1996.  The Crusaders entered the game at 2-3, while the Bison were 3-1.

Clearfield was led by running back Justin Ingram, who carried the ball 29 times for 205 yards and two touchdowns as the Bison racked up 46 rushing attempts in an era when the team was well-known for its prolific passing.  However, Riverdale Baptist nearly won the game despite gaining only 142 yards on 46 plays.  Ahead by 7 in the final quarter, Clearfield lost possession on a fumble at its own 30 yard line and, following a pass play to the 4 yard line, Riverdale Baptist appeared primed to tie the game.  From the September 28, 1996 issue of The Progress:

The Crusaders tried three runs up the middle, but the Bisons gave ground grudgingly to set up a fourth-and-goal inside the Clearfield 1.

On fourth down, [Riverdale Baptist quarterback Terry] Gore rolled to his right and appeared to get to the corner.  But Clearfield cornerback Adam Hertlein came seemingly from nowhere to knock Gore out of bounds, mere inches from the end zone with 6:36 to play.

“The goal line stand is definitely going to be a bright spot in our history,” said [Clearfield coach Tim] Janocko.  “It’s that big.  It means a lot to our kids.  It’s a goal line stand that’s going to be talked about a long time around here.”

So, here we are, nearly 19 years later, talking about that goal line stand.  Hertlein, who was then just a sophomore, went on to become one of the leading receivers in school history, ranking fifth all-time in career receptions (86), yards (1,498), and receiving touchdowns (16).  Ingram rushed for 1,001 yards in 1996 and went on to play linebacker at Penn State.  Bison quarterback Dennis Yohe is second in school history in career passing attempts (572) and threw for 3,608 yards as a Bison (fourth all-time) while also finishing in the top ten in career tackles (196).  He later played football at IUP.

The 1996 Bison went 6-5 and fell to Altoona in the state playoffs, while also becoming the last Clearfield team to lose to Curwensville.  However, the team featured a number of younger players who would lay the foundation for Clearfield’s 8-3 1997 squad and the 11-1 team in 1998.

This Friday’s game will be the first one Clearfield has played against a team from Maryland since the Riverdale Baptist game, and Fort Hill figures to present a significant challenge.  The Sentinels have won 28 consecutive games and two straight state championships.  Last season, Fort Hill beat Keyser (WV), 28-20, the week after the Golden Tornado beat Clearfield, 43-30.  The Sentinels, who have won four state championships, can be found online here.  They are also on Twitter @FH_Football.

Look for more coverage in this week’s issues of The Progress, and if you can’t make your way up to the Hill in Hyde City, be sure to listen to Pennsylvania’s greatest high school football radio broadcast with Pat Pallo and Fred Redden.  GO BISON.