Sunday, November 9, 2014

District 5/9 Sub-regional AAA Championship Preview.

Clearfield (9-2) at Somerset (10-1)
Friday 7:00 Herlinger Field (Richland)  Johnstown, PA


Somerset and Clearfield meet for the second straight year for the sub-regional championship. The Golden Eagles have been a force all year long, and many expected that.  Not many people were sure of what to expect of Clearfield though. The Bison lost some great players from a really good team in 2013, and had to bring some new players along in 2014.  Either way, the teams paths will cross again Friday night for the right to advance to the state tournament.

Somerset pummeled Punxsutawney in the first round 51-12, and that was reminiscent of the majority of the 2014 Somerset season. Somerset flew through the LHAC for nine weeks, and did it with a powerful defense and a quick-strike offense.  The Golden Eagles only had one blemish on the record, and judging by the Punxsutawney result, it is water under the bridge now.

The offense is anchored by junior quarterback, Dylan Barns.  The dual-threat QB has thrown for over 1,000 yards with 17 passing touchdowns with just three interceptions. He has also rushed for 8 scores.  He is joined by an electrifying runner, Jake Heiple. The junior running back is over the 1,000 mark with 18 touchdowns, and is coming off a three TD performance against the Chucks. The speedy and versatile Raven Beeman had three touchdowns (2 receiving, 1 rushing) last week, and he is a threat to take it the distance any time.  Bryce Mostoller is one of the best tight end's in the state and he just adds to the long list of players to worry about if you are playing Somerset.

The Golden Eagles' defense is a big play unit in every sense of the term.  Somerset has two aggressive ends that live in opponents' backfields in Bryce Mostoller and Raven Beeman. They also boast an all-state middle linebacker, Logan Eller, and he flies sideline to sideline. They also have seven different players to record interceptions this season. They create havoc in the backfield and force turnovers, and that's the name of their game.

Clearfield is coming off a sound 42-27 victory over Johnstown in the first round. Clearfield gave up the game's first touchdown, but went on to score the games' next 42 points to essentially put it away. Clearfield is a strong defensive team with a tough running game.  After starting 1-2, The Bison have reeled off 8 straight victories.

Clearfield's offense revolves around the running of senior Erik Sellers. He has 22 rushing touchdowns on the year and has toppled the century mark with 1,071 yards on the season. Seth Caldwell is a good secondary runner, and he has 7 rushing touchdowns to go with 964 rushing yards. The 1-2 punch is difficult to deal with, and as a team they average 243 rushing yards a game.  Clearfield quarterback Cody Spaid only completed 1 pass against Johnstown, but has shown he is a capable passer with 838 yards and 9 touchdowns on the year. Ryan Lezzar is the team's big play threat and he averages 20 yards a reception, and has 9 touchdown catches this season. Clearfield is pretty straightforward with what they like to do, and that's running the football and they have had a lot of success doing so. They have the passing game with Lezzar if they need it, but ideally they are coming right at you with the running game.

The Clearfield defense has been very good this season, and they are a physical team that mirrors their offensive style. Clearfield really buckled down after their 1-2 start and have been playing suffocating defense since the Central loss. Johnstown was able to put up some points late in the game, but for the most part Clearfield threw the Trojans off their game.  The defense has a number of stars. Dustin Maines is their sack artist, and the undersized end really gets after it in the pass rush. Nick Kovalick is one of their leading tacklers and he is a hard-hitting linebacker that leads their run defense. Erik Sellers and Christian Rummery are two athletic outside linebackers that can be tough against the run and pass. Ryan Lezzar came up with a pick six last week, and he is one of the anchors in their secondary.

The winner of the District 5-9 showdown advances to the state's "Sweet 16" and they will be matched up with the District 4 champion, Jersey Shore or Selinsgrove. The winners will meet next week likely closer to a District 4 venue. Clearfield won last year's meeting and the game was played in Dubois.

(Helmet pictures courtesy of PA Helmet Project)

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