By Rich Rhoades
Thanks to the Autumn Leaf Festival in Clarion, it’s an early start to District 9 football’s Week 5 schedule. Thursday night, the Clarion Bobcats host the Union Knights at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.
The Bobcats have some prolific numbers on the board, distinguishing themselves as the district’s Class A favorite as the regular season hits the midway point.
The Bobcats share the No. 10 state ranking with District 4’s South Williamsport. Statistically, the Bobcats lead the state in scoring (60 ppg.) by a margin of six points over the next highest South Fayette’s 54 ppg. They’re also No. 1 in points differential (55 ppg.) and tied for 12th in points allowed at 5 ppg.
Clarion average 434 yards per game, despite multiple quarters of the PIAA’s Mercy Rule running clock chewing up quick time. Damien Slike has rushed for 460 yards with 10 touchdowns. Ian Corbett (392 yards, 7 TDs) is another big backfield threat for quarterback John Katis, who’s passed for 373 yards and four scores. Receiver Cody Hearst (251 yards, 3 TDs) is Katis’ top target.
Defensively, senior defensive tackle Jacob Troutman has 6 ½ sacks.
The Knights (1-3), after beating A-C Valley in their season-opener, have lost three straight. In their last two losses to Redbank Valley and Karns City, the Knights have yielded 108 points.
Offensively, the Knights have put up some numbers. Quarterback Lane Cicciarelli has passed for 682 yards and nine touchdowns, six of those strikes going to Shane Murphy (11 catches, 293 yards). Chet Carmichael (11 catches, 218 yards) is Cicciarelli’s other receiving target.
The rest of the week’s 14-game schedule is on Friday night and the headlining game resides in the Allegheny Mountain League’s South Division where half of the district’s 4-0 teams clash at Kane when Curwensville treks north to take on the Wolves.
The Wolves just dealt Brockway its first loss in a 35-31 thriller last week and will try to beat the Tide for the first time since 2008. Quarterback Kevin Cleer has passed for 667 yards and 13 touchdowns against just one interception. Jeff Kocjancic (22 catches, 314 yards, 7 TDs) is his top receiver. Running back John English has rushed for 486 yards and six touchdowns.
Kane ranks third in the district in points allowed (11.3 ppg.). Junior James Lingenfelter leads the team with 10 tackles per game.
The tradition is alive and well for the run-heavy Golden Tide, who have attempted just 55 passes for 55 yards in their first four games. Running back Zach Tibbens (766 yards, 10 TDs) is the workhorse.
The Tide rank fourth in points allowed (16.5 ppg.). Junior linebacker Jake Stiles leads the team with 8.3 tackles per game and three interceptions.
Here’s a look at the rest of the schedule:
St. Marys (3-1, 1-1) at Punxsutawney (2-2, 0-1)
Dutch running back Alex Feldbauer shared Player of the Week honors with Clearfield’s Christian Lezzer after rushing for a school-record 321 yards against Clarion-Limestone. He’s at 766 yards for the season.
The Chucks’ Christian Falgout is on the district rushing leaderboard with 523 yards and six touchdowns.
Moniteau (0-4, 0-1) at Brookville (3-1, 0-1)
Raiders running back Zach Vroman is 76 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season and 99 short of reaching the 3,000-yard career milestone as he leads his team against a struggling Warriors team that’s played a tough early-season schedule. It shows as they’ve allowed 48.5 points per game, ranking them 581 out of 588 teams in the state.
Moniteau running back Dustin Geagan went into the season with over 3,000 career rushing yards, but he’s only gained 58 yards on 26 carries so far this year. Quarterback Cody Skiver has passed for 257 yards and rushed for 165 yards.
Clarion-Limestone (1-3, 1-1) at Keystone (0-4, 0-2)
The Lions, who recently ended the longest active losing streak in the district, now face the newest streak owner in the Panthers. Keystone has lost nine straight dating back to last season. C-L, however, hasn’t beaten the Panthers since 2005.
Chase Alcorn leads the Lions’ resurgent running game with 400 yards and quarterback Christian Bakewell has passed for 545 yards, 270 of it coming last week in a loss to St. Marys.
A-C Valley (0-4, 0-2) at Redbank Valley (2-2, 2-0)
The Bulldogs try to bounce back from a loss to Farrell by hosting the winless Falcons.
Mark Strothers leads the Bulldogs with 560 yards rushing while quarterback Jake Dougherty has passed for 402 yards.
District 10 Region 5
Bradford (2-2, 1-2) at DuBois (2-2, 2-1)
After losing to the Owls 54-26 in 2010, the DuBois Beavers have pasted their rivals from the north the last two years, 52-21 in 2011 and a whopping 84-6 rout last year in Bradford. The Owls are coming off a 62-12 loss to Slippery Rock.
DuBois quarterback Gabe French has thrown for 762 yards and seven touchdowns as the Beavers try to rebound from a loss to Oil City, a team that recently forfeited its 49-0 win over Bradford in Week 2 because of using an ineligible player. Devin Clark leads the Beavers with 412 yards rushing and Bryson Paulinellie (14 catches, 394 yards, 6 TDs) is the top receiver.
Kyle Langdon leads the Owls with 323 yards rushing.
Allegheny Mountain League-North
With just division games counting in the AML this year, things are very much up in the air in the AML-North. This will be a big week of sorting out the contenders for the AML-North title.
Sheffield (2-2 overall, 1-0 AML-North) at Coudersport (3-1, 1-0)
The Wolverines try to build off the momentum of last week’s 27-0 shutout win over Cameron County. Quarterback Adam Higby has passed for 375 yards. Last week, running back Jareek Jackson ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
For Coudersport, Ethan Hite has passed for 485 yards while Coy Hoffman is a dual threat with 355 yards rushing and Hite’s top receiving target with 228 yards.
Smethport (2-2, 1-0) at Cameron County (1-3, 0-1)
A Hubbers win at Emporium would give them a share of the AML-North lead with the Sheffield-Coudersport winner. Quarterback Dylan Zetwick has passed for 340 yards and rushed for 185 yards. Running back Ryan Stratton leads the team in rushing (243 yards, 4 TDs), receiving (140 yards) and tackles on defense at 13 stops per game.
The Red Raiders struggled last week without quarterback Tucker Britton, who led the team in rushing (183 yards) along with his 267 yards passing.
Port Allegany (1-3, 0-1) at Otto-Eldred (0-4, 0-1)
The Gators are in a must-win situation obviously while the Terrors just need a win. Port quarterback Jordan Seefeldt has passed for 622 yards with most of that yardage going to top target Cory Burr (21 catches, 385 yards). Running back Tyler Shaffer has rushed for 392 yards.
For the Terrors, most of their offense comes on the ground with three rushers over 240 yards, including Sam Colebert (398), freshman Seth Drummond (268) and quarterback Dakota Vaughn (242).
Allegheny Mountain League-South
Ridgway (2-2, 1-0) at Brockway (3-1, 0-1)
The only other AML-South game has the Rovers hosting the Elkers. The Elkers rank second in the district in points allowed (10.8 ppg.), but will be tested by a Rovers offense led by quarterback Alec Shaffer-Doan, who’s passed for 1,195 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 305 yards.
Clearfield (4-0) at Central Mountain (1-3)
The unbeaten Bison head to Mill Hall to take on the Wildcats in a non-conference matchup.
Last week, Bison senior quarterback Christian Lezzer became just the second known quarterback in District 9 history to rush for 3,000 career yards when he led the Bison to a 58-30 win over Huntingdon. Lezzer ran for 208 yards and six touchdowns, upping his career rushing yardage to 3,006 yards.
Lezzer is not far from what’s believed to be the all-time leading quarterback rusher in Moniteau’s Tyler Armagost, who finished with 3,052 yards in 2011. This year, Lezzer has rushed for 694 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s rushed for 46 career TDs.
Lezzer, who ran for 1,444 and passed for 1,445 yards a year ago, hasn’t had to throw much so far this year. He’s passed for 282 yards on just 27 attempts. He has plenty of running help behind him in the backfield. Senior Tyler Stratton and freshman Seth Caldwell have rushed for 377 and 332 yards respectively.
Karns City (3-1) at Franklin (1-3)
The Gremlins go on the road to play the District 10 Knights.
Tristan Rhoades, coming off a 203-yard performance against Union, leads the Gremlins in rushing with 327 yards. Wyatt Everetts has rushed for 244 yards and quarterback Tyler Kepple has passed for 480 yards.
Elk County Catholic (0-4) at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy (1-3)
At Boalsburg, the winless Crusaders take on the district’s favorite non-conference opponent. St. Joe’s is playing its third straight D9 foe. Last week, it lost to Curwensville, 25-7, after a Week 3 loss to Coudersport (38-14).
A special note from ECC athletic director Aaron Straub concerning the location and logistics of this game: The Game is at St. Joseph’s Academy in Boalsburg. The field is located right behind the school. First left after the light at the Military Museum in Boalsburg. School is about 3 blocks from the turn Spectator Parking is limited and off street parking is required. The Field is under construction and there is seating for about 200 so fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. There will be no charge for admission. The school address is 901 Boalsburg Pike, Boalsburg, PA 16827.