Clearfield and Curwensville look to remain undefeated this week
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Clearfield and Curwensville look to remain undefeated as the high school football regular season reaches the halfway point. Both squads have long road trips in front of them with the Bison traveling to Lock Haven to play Central Mountain, while the Golden Tide make the trek north to tangle with Kane in a battle of unbeatens.
Glendale looks to build a little momentum after last week's first win of the season as it makes the trip to Claysburg-Kimmel, while ICC rivals Moshannon Valley and West Branch host league contests. The Black Knights welcome Juniata Valley to town, while the Warriors face Everett in the hopes of grabbing their initial win of the season.
P-O plays host to Chestnut Ridge in a non-league matchup.
Here is a closer look at this week's games:
Clearfield (4-0) at Central Mountain (1-3)
LOCK HAVEN - There is potential for some points to be scored Friday when the Bison travel to Central Mountain - a lot of points.
Clearfield is averaging nearly 44 points per contest and is coming off a 58-point performance against Huntingdon. Central Mountain is scoring 31 points per outing, including last week's 41-point outburst at Bellefonte.
But the Wildcats are also surrendering points by the bushel, giving up 152 in losses to Williamsport (24-21), State College (71-28) and Mifflin County (57-35).
"They've played three Quad-A teams, so that factors in," Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said about the 50.7 points per contest the Wildcats were giving up prior to last week's 41-6 win against winless Bellefonte. "But I know they are capable of putting up a lot of points, too."
Central Mountain features a spread offense and has gained more yardage through the air than on the ground as quarterback Bryce Bittner has completed 38 of 86 passes for 559 yards and eight touchdowns, while tossing seven interceptions. Bittner threw for a season-high 162 yards in the win over the Red Raiders.
Tyler Pavalko and Cody Varner are the recipients of most of Bittner's throws. Pavalko has 15 receptions for 244 yards and five scores, and Varner has 12 catches for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
Pavalko is also a big threat in the return game where he has amassed 537 yards on kickoffs and 48 on punts. He also has three TDs on the ground.
"(Pavalko) scores from all places on the field," Janocko said. "He returns kicks, he runs out of the backfield, he catches passes. He's a player."
Nigel English leads the rushing attack with 253 yards on 32 carries, while Hunter Weaver has picked up 141 yards on 30 totes. Both have two scores on the ground. English had 174 yards in last week's win over Bellefonte.
"They spread the ball all over," Janocko said. "We have to be sure we account for everybody."
Defensively, the Wildcats attack the ball. Sometimes it works for them, but they are also susceptible to the big play.
"They crowd the line of scrimmage a lot and blitz," Janocko said. "It's all or nothing. They either make a big play or have one go against them. But their defense is very athletic."
The Bison are 4-0 all-time against Central Mountain, including a 35-14 win last year over the Von Walker-led Wildcats. Walker is now playing for Penn State.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Curwensville (4-0) at Kane (4-0)
KANE - Something's got to give when the only remaining undefeated Allegheny Mountain League squads square off in a midseason battle that will likely have far-reaching affects on the AML South title and perhaps playoff seeding down the road.
Curwensville head coach Andy Evanko says it's always a pleasure to play in a game like this.
"It's great," he said. "This is what you work hard for. You want to be in games like this."
And while the Golden Tide are stoked to be in the position they're in, they also realize the tall task in front of them as they travel to play the Class AA Wolves, led by quarterback Kevin Cleer. The senior signal-caller has thrown for 657 yards and 13 touchdowns, while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.
"They have a very good quarterback and run a very nice system," Evanko said. "They're very well-balanced on offense."
Cleer has a pair of lethal targets in Jeff Kocjancic and Andrew Pierson. Kocjancic has 22 receptions for 314 yards and seven scores, while Pierson has hauled in 15 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
John English leads the rushing attack with 486 yards and six touchdowns on 76 carries.
"They're balanced. You can't try to take one thing away because they'll hurt you with something else," Evanko said. "We have to play great defense. We need to be able to stop the run and we have to get a pass rush."
Evanko is also concerned about a Kane defense that surrendered just 14 points in its first three games before giving up 31 last week to high-powered Brockway in a 35-31 win.
"They hadn't given up more than one score in a game before last week," Evanko said. "They run downhill at you in a 4-3 or 5-3. They just keep coming every down.
"There are physical and quick up front and have very athletic linebackers. We have to mix it up on offense. We can't just run the ball."
Kane scored three blowout wins, beating Sheffield (34-6), Port Allegany (54-0) and Otto-Eldred (35-8) by a combined 109 points before the close call at Brockway.
Evanko hopes his squad's close, down-to-the-wire victories over Coudersport and Cameron County end up being an advantage.
"We were fortunate to be in those tight games," Evanko said. "That might help us out."
Curwensville topped the Wolves, 36-20, last season, has four straight wins in the series, and is 7-3 in the last 10.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Juniata Valley (2-2) at Moshannon Valley (1-3)
AMESVILLE - The fact that Moshannon Valley has lost three straight games to teams with a combined 10-2 record isn't lost on head coach Michael Keith.
It's how his team has lost that bothers the second-year coach.
The Black Knights allowed just 21 points in the first seven quarters of the season, but have struggled to slow down anyone in the last nine. During that span, opponents have amassed 120 points.
If that trend is to come to a halt against Juniata Valley, Keith believes it's going to have to come down to one thing - heart.
"(Losing to teams with a 10-2 record wouldn't bother me) if we played hard," said Keith, "but from the end of the third quarter (of Week 2) until right now, we haven't played with any kind of emotion and desire.
"Those teams aren't 40 or 50 points better than us. I'm not saying we're beating them, but we're making it competitive if we are. I challenged the kids on Monday, so we'll see what happens Friday night.
"We've got to hit people. The coaching staff broke down the tape figuring out what's going on. We're in position, but we aren't making the play. It comes back to the want ... the want to play, the want to win."
In order to slow down the Green Hornets, who average nearly 350 yards of offense per game, Mo Valley will need to keep quarterback Caleb Taylor under wraps and keep a helmet on running back Jesse Claar.
Taylor has thrown for 586 yards and four scores, while Claar has 393 yards on the ground with 10 touchdowns. Claar is also one of Taylor's top targets, as he's hauled in 10 passes for 202 more yards and another score.
"It's the wing-T," Keith said of Juniata Valley's high powered offense. "They run the sweeps, and their running game sets up their passing game. They love running trick plays, so we're going to be aggressive and come after them. We're going to change our scheme a little bit and do some more stunting to hopefully spark our kids a little bit.
"(Taylor) is their best player, and we have to contain him and not give him time to throw the ball. We have to use our pads this week to hit and wrap."
The Knights will have some good news heading into the showdown, as sophomore quarterback Eric Sherkel will return to run the Mo Valley offense.
Sherkel missed all of last week's 44-13 loss at Mount Union and had his team in the game against Tussey Mountain before leaving with an injury. The Titans won that contest, 56-26.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Moshannon Valley Athletic Complex.
Glendale (1-3) at Claysburg-Kimmel (1-3)
CLAYSBURG - A win can do a lot for a team's confidence, and Vikings head coach Matt Irvine has seen a difference in his squad this week after Friday's 34-12 win over rival West Branch.
Irvine is hoping his team can carry that momentum over into this Friday's contest at Claysburg-Kimmel.
"Their attitudes are better," said Irvine, "and they're more upbeat getting that one under (their belts). Hopefully we can continue that trend this week."
Glendale will be facing a squad not all that dissimilar from itself.
The Bulldogs have struggled to find consistent offensive production and have lost a couple of games that looked more lopsided than they actually were.
Claysburg-Kimmel was within six points of Northern Bedford last week, but ended up losing 37-0. After besting West Branch in Week 2, the Bulldogs have lost two straight by a combined 75-6.
"It's kind of a snowball effect with them," Irvine said, "compared to us doing the same thing. One or two things go wrong and, I don't know if it gets in their heads or what, but it continues to happen. Hopefully we can limit our mistakes and take it from them, and that's the key.
"They have a lot of similarities, and I think they're just now trying to get ahold of what the (new coaching staff is) trying to do. I know their running back from Week 1 to now looks a lot better."
Logan Johnson is the back Irvine mentioned, as he was second on the team with 12 rushes for 78 yards in last week's loss. Teammate Conner Brown had 79 more on 14 totes, as Claysburg-Kimmel mustered just 120 yards of offense against the Panthers.
With the improved Johnson and the way Irvine's team played offensively last week, the game could come down to who wins the battle in the trenches.
"Johnson, he just seemed kind of tight (in the opener)," said Irvine, "but now he looks more confident, and his comfort level has gone up. They try to get him the ball a lot.
"I think this could be our closest matchup we've had as far as size-wise (on the line). It should be a good battle. Whoever wins that and the turnover battle should win this week."
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.
Everett (2-2) at West Branch (0-4)
ALLPORT - Things haven't been going well for the West Branch football team, and this week brings a high-powered running attack in Everett.
Everett comes into West Branch boasting a total of 817 yards on the ground with four players accounting for most of those yards.
Jacob Jay leads all backs with 331 yards on 64 carries. Austin Karns and Kyle Sheaffer each have 178 yards on the campaign, while quarterback Trevon Ward has chipped in with 128.
"Defensively, we just haven't been making plays and we're working hard to fix that this week," said West Branch head coach Lester Smeal.
"They definitely like to run the ball and No. 22 (Jay) is the guy they like to get it to, but their quarterback likes to run too. We have to take away what they like to do and force them into something that they aren't real comfortable with."
Everett has been a mystery team in the Inter-County Conference so far this season as their two losses have come to once-beaten Tussey Mountain and undefeated Northern Bedford. Both losses were by three points, while their wins have also been single-digit wins against Glendale and Williamsburg.
"(Their record) doesn't mean anything to us," said Smeal. "Anybody can win or lose on any given night. The kids are hungry. They want to win. Just like every other week, we're going to line up and give everything we have."
The Everett defense will be faced with the challenge of slowing down West Branch running back Kris Smeal. The junior smash-mouth tailback has 529 yards on the season and has three rushing touchdowns on the season.
Everett won last year's contest, 32-6. West Branch last defeated it in 2011 with a score of 46-8.
"This is a big game for us," said Coach Smeal. "It's homecoming. There are going to be a lot of people there. We want to play the best game that we can play. Going out and getting that victory would be very big for us."
Kickoff from L.T. Drivas Field is set for 7 p.m.
Chestnut Ridge (2-2) at Philipsburg-Osceola (1-3)
PHILIPSBURG - Two weeks after picking up their first win, and then taking a beating from Tyrone in Week 4, the Mounties face off against another tough opponent on Friday when Chestnut Ridge comes to town.
The Lions come in fresh off a 23-10 victory over previously undefeated Bald Eagle Area in Week 4.
Junior running back Matt Wiley racked up 178 yards on the ground, scoring two touchdowns.
Wiley has 359 yards on 60 carries this season.
Quarterback Beau Bosch also ran for a touchdown and 68 yards in the win over the Eagles. Bosch has scored four of the Lions' eight touchdowns this year.
"They have the same offense they always run," said P-O head coach Jeff Vroman. "They have their quarterback and the fullback.
"The key for us is to know who you are responsible for on defense. It's basic assignment football. Nothing has changed with how Chestnut Ridge runs its offense. We just have to be patient and take what they give us. The kids know their assignments. We have to be more effective in block assignments. There were just some simple breakdowns last week against Tyrone."
The Mounties continue to spread the wealth with nine different runners handling the ball in the win over the Raiders and six in the loss to Tyrone last week.
"I think each game has is own complexion," Vroman said. "I liked what I saw even last week with different kids carry and catching the ball. We had our second-team quarterback (Jake Anderson) in there and it was an impressive performance for a sophomore."
Anderson filled in for regular starter Curtis Matsko when he got hurt last week.
"It makes it easier when you are thrust into that job and don't have to sit and think about it," Vroman said. "You have to be real happy with his performance. He didn't do things he couldn't do. That was a real positive."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Field.