Friday’s District 9 AAA championship game will feature Clearfield and Punxsutawney in the 91st meeting between the two schools. The Bison own a 44-43-3 all-time edge in the series, which dates back to 1924. In last year’s D9 title, Clearfield beat Punxsy, 35-8, on its way to its fifth straight championship. The last team to win a D9-AAA title was Punxsutawney, which did so in 2009 by virtue of a 34-28 win over the Bison. A win Friday would give Clearfield its sixth consecutive district championship and its 14th overall.
Clearfield has won the past five district title games by an average score of 38 to 7. Friday’s game will have no bearing on the state playoffs other than serving as an additional chance for both teams to accrue points for the District 5/6/8/9 Subregional playoff. Punxsutawney has been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, but a Clearfield win would wrap up the top seed in the subregional, which begins next week. The Bison are currently leading the points race with 960. A look at the other teams in the four-team subregional playoff:
- Somerset (830 pts) – The Eagles are currently the second-seed and sit 130 points behind Clearfield. They face undefeated and state-ranked Bishop Guilfoyle Friday; they would pass the Bison for the top seed with a win and a Clearfield loss to Punxsutawney. They cannot fall lower than the second seed no matter what happens Friday night.
- University Prep (520 pts), Johnstown (480 pts) – University Prep fell to Brashear, 7-6, last week in the City League playoffs and does not have a game scheduled for this week. Deciding the third and fourth spots in the subregional will fall solely on Friday’s Johnstown vs. Cambria Heights game. A win by Johnstown means University Prep will play at Clearfield next weekend, barring the unlikely scenario of both a Somerset win and a Bison loss. A loss by the Trojans sends them to Hyde, instead. Whoever ends up with the third seed will most likely play at Somerset. Johnstown enters the game 5-4, while Cambria Heights is 4-5.
- Punxsutawney is currently riding a three-game skid that has seen them get shutout by St. Marys and then allow 109 total points in losses to Clarion-Limestone and Karns City. On the season, the Chucks have been outscored by an average of 28.7 to 19.0.
- Friday’s game wasn’t set in stone until a little over a week ago when the Chucks confirmed that they would participate in the tournament. With only three teams in D9-AAA and Bradford owning just one win this year, it was unclear whether the district would have a championship game this year. That, coupled with the fact that the game has no real bearing on the state postseason, cast Friday’s game in doubt to some extent.
- The Chucks are led by senior quarterback Ryan Jones, who has thrown for 1,267 yards and rushed for 393 more. No other Punxsutawney player has eclipsed 200 yards rushing this season. Jones has a hand in 13 of the Chucks’ 23 offensive touchdowns this season and has intercepted 3 passes on defense.
- After finishing the 2015 regular season at 8-1, the Bison have won 56 of their last 60 regular season games (93%) dating back to midway through the 2009 season.
- Clearfield now has 334 points scored this season, giving them the 12th highest single-season total in school history.
- Friday’s 56-17 win over Philipsburg-Osceola was the 7th time a Bison team had scored exactly 56 points in a game. Four of those occurrences have come against P-O.
- With his 8 tackles against P-O, Matt Collins now has the school’s all-time record for tackles in a season. He currently has 132 with at least two games left to play.
- Seth Caldwell now has 515 career rush attempts, making him the fourth player in school history to have at least 500 (Christian Lezzer, Dave Richards, Isiah Morgan). Caldwell currently has 2,905 career rushing yards, putting him just 95 away from becoming the 5th player in Clearfield history with at least 3,000.
- Ryan Lezzer is now tied for 11th with Todd Shaw (1999-2002) with 70 career receptions. His 1,308 receiving yards rank 9th and his 16 career receiving touchdowns put him in a four-way tie for sixth place.
- Cody Spaid is just three passing yards away from tying Christian Lezzer (2010-2013) for 12th in career passing yards. His 24 career touchdown passes tie him with Tanner Kelly (2001-2004) for 10th.
- A win over Punxsutawney on Friday would give Clearfield its sixth-straight season of at least 9 wins.
- Check out more info on this game via the D9Sports.com preview.