By Rich Rhoades
If it sounds like six unbeaten teams remaining in District 9 is a low number, you’re right.
This year’s six 2-0 squads is the fewest since way back in 2000 when just six teams started 2-0 last year district-wide. In this week’s 14-game schedule with three games set for Saturday, the only game featuring two 2-0 teams is Clearfield’s trip to Martinsburg to take on District 6’s Central in a key Mountain League matchup.
It should be a good one as the Bison and Dragons hooked up in a 34-33 classic won by the Bison last year in Clearfield. Both teams have some key players back, including both do-it-all quarterbacks.
For Clearfield, it’s Boston College recruit Christian Lezzer. He’s off to a good start with 308 yards rushing and six touchdows and 118 yards passing with a touchdown. Central’s Austin Cunningham has rushed for 196 yards and passed for 175 yards. Last year, Cunningham threw for 1,406 yards and ran for 809 yards.
Coincidentally, Cunningham, also an all-state baseball player, listed Lezzer as the best athlete he’s competed against in two separate Altoona Mirror “Athlete of the Week” stories the last two years.
The Bison also have two other ball carriers with solid rushing numbers in freshman Seth Caldwell (215 yards, 2 TDs) and senior Tyler Stratton (152 yards).
Looking at the rest of the Week 3 schedule:
Otto-Eldred (0-2) at Kane (2-0)
Can the Terrors rack up big numbers against the Wolves like they did against Brockway last week? They’ll take a win first and foremost, but it won’t be easy. Kane features first-year quarterback Kevin Cleer (287 yards passing, 7 TDs, 1 Int.), his top receiving target John Kocjancic (12 catches, 138 yards, 4 TDs) and running back John English (221 yards, 3 TDs).
The Terrors have three runners with over 220 yards rushing, led by Sam Colebert (338 yards) and freshman Seth Drummond (226 yards). Quarterback Dakota Vaughn has rushed for 222 yards.
Smethport (1-1) at Curwensville (2-0)
The Hubbers are trying to rebound from a shellacking against St. Marys of Lancaster, N.Y., but they’ll have to stop Curwensville and its running back Zach Tibbens (391 yards, 5 TDs).
KSAC Large School
Moniteau (0-2) at Karns City (1-1)
Both teams are coming off losses. The Gremlins look to get back on the right side of the win column and put their lopsided loss to Clarion behind them against arch-rival Moniteau. The Warriors have lost to two good District 10 teams in Sharpsville and West Middlesex and it won’t get much easier against the Gremlins.
Brookville (2-0) at St. Marys (1-1)
Zach Vroman has started the season with two straight 300-game rushing efforts. We don’t know of any District 9 back to pull off a three-game streak. Vroman’s 624 yards obviously leads the district and all five of his touchdowns have been from 42 yards out or longer.
The Dutch have a running back coming off a big season with Alex Feldbauer (188 yards), but last week’s passing effort by sophomore quarterback Nick Cunningham got some attention. Of his 198 yards so far, 173 came in last week’s win over Keystone when he completed 10 of 17 passes with two touchdowns, both going to Brady Bauer (9 catches, 141 yards).
The Raiders haven’t won in St. Marys since 2003, losing three straight during that span.
KSAC Small School
Redbank Valley (1-1) at Union (1-1)
The things are going in the division, the winner of this one likely secures the second automatic Class A playoff berth behind Clarion.
Mark Strothers leads the Redbank Valley offense with 209 yards rushing. Union quarterback Lane Cicciarelli (257 yards, 5 TDs) has done a solid job in his first year as a starter. Running back Dylan Shirey (185 yard) and receiver Shane Murphy (6 catches, 164 yards, 5 TDs) have put up good numbers.
Keystone (0-2) at Clarion (2-0)
The Bobcats are heavily favored against a Panthers squad that’s given up 83 points and 788 in two games. Bobcats running back Damien Slike has rushed for 304 yards and six touchdowns in two games, most of that coming in last week’s win over Karns City.
Clarion has outscored opponents 116-7 so far.
A-C Valley (0-2) at Clarion (0-2)
The Lions have lost 21 straight games.
District 10 Region 5
Bradford (1-1) at Warren (2-0)
Alex Colosimo has rushed for 152 yards for the Owls.
Punxsutawney (1-1) at DuBois (1-1)
It’s the 98th meeting between the Chucks and Beavers, who own a 61-33-3 series advantage.
Beavers running back Devin Clark has rushed for 261 yards, 233 of it coming last week at Franklin. Gabe French has passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Christian Falgout (279 yards, 4 TDs) paces the Chucks offense.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (1-1) at Coudersport (1-1)
Located just outside of State College in Boalsburg, the first-year program Wolves start their District 9 tour with the first of six games against district teams with Curwensville (Week 4), Elk County Catholic (Week 5), Kane (Week 7), A-C Valley (Week 8) and Ridgway (Week 10).
So far, the Wolves beat Mercyhurst Prep (46-6) and lost last week to Towanda, N.Y., 42-20. Quarterback Philip Fenstermaker has passed for 349 yards and six touchdowns.
Coudersport is led by running back Coy Hoffman (194 yards) and quarterback Ethan Hite (275 yards passing).
Brockway (2-0) at Sheffield (1-1), 1:30 p.m.
So what’s next for the offensive powerhouse Rovers? Quarterback Alec Shaffer-Doan has passed for 643 yards and nine touchdowns. Two receivers — Anthony Isabella (19 catches, 296 yards, 6 TDs) and Anthony Benson (16 catches, 216, 3 TDs) — are his primary targets.
Ridgway (1-1) at Port Allegany (1-1), 1:30 p.m.
The Gators haven’t been 0-3 since 2008.
Cameron County (0-2) at Elk County Catholic (0-2), 7 p.m.
Red Raiders quarterback Tucker Brtitton is off to a good start with 206 yards passing and 152 yards rushing.
We don’t know the last time the Crusaders started 0-3, going back through at least 1998.