Both Brookville and Clarion-Limestone go on the road Friday as the high school football season heads into Week 1, well let’s agree it’s Week 2.
And both teams are coming off wins as the Raiders won a 69-60 shootout over Bradford and the Lions blanked Union/A-C Valley, 40-0.
This week, the Raiders head north to take on the Brockway Rovers in what’s believed to be the Route 28 Trophy game now. While it’s a D9 League Large School Division matchup, the Lions trip to Smethport is a non-division game between teams from the Small School South and North Divisions respectively.
But while varsity teams were getting ready to tee it up last Friday, approval on a co-operative setup for two area football teams could set into motion an inevitable move at the varsity level.
District 9 Chairman Jim Manners confirmed that the PIAA Executive Committee approved a junior football co-operative program between Clarion and Clarion-Limestone effective immediately.
Lions varsity coach Dave Eggleton confirmed that combined practices in Clarion began Monday with C-L sending approximately 14 kids to join a roster that also includes North Clarion student/athletes from an already existing setup between those two schools.
Eggleton said that the five freshman who are on the C-L junior high roster were offered a spot on the varsity roster, but they all elected to join Clarion, which could play a two-schedule season with a seventh/eighth and eighth/ninth setups — Brookville currently plays the same format — but schedules weren’t finalized.
“It’s a positive thing that if it’s able to happen, there are more playing opportunities,” Eggleton said. “Our two junior high coaches are still helping.”
What wasn’t addressed or commented on was the future possibility of a varsity co-op that includes the same setup. Do the math and it’s going to be an issue as soon as next year. The Lions, who have 19 varsity players on their roster, have 10 seniors with five or so freshman playing junior high.
Stay tuned on this story and with this being the first year of a new PIAA classification cycle, both schools would have to get things going soon with details on whether or if this is something that’s going to happen.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s games:
Brookville (1-0) at
Both the Raiders and Rovers squeaked out wins last week, the Rovers rallying from a 24-10 deficit early in the fourth quarter to win 27-24 at Karns City.
It was Zane Puhala’s 30-yard field goal with 2:50 left that was the difference. It was the debut of former Raiders assistant coach Tom Weaver.
Tyler Serafini ran for 148 yards on 21 carried with a touchdown while quarterback Peter Downer was 7-for-17 for 76 yards.
“Brockway is a good team. It’s going to be a good game,” Raiders head coach Scott Park said. “Their strength is the line on both sides of the ball and their front seven is pretty good on defense. We’re going to have to work on the stuff we struggled with against Bradford and try to get ready for Brockway.”
Park said that the status of his all-state receiver Bryan Dworek and linebacker Cole LaBenne are still uncertain. Both missed last week’s game.
While they gave up 522 rushing yards to the Owls, the Raiders will try to follow up on a record-setting offensive effort that didn’t include Dworek. Sophomore quarterback Jack Krug not surprisingly earned the D9Sports.Com Player of the Week award after throwing for 555 yards and eight touchdowns while running for 138 yards and a score.
Krug’s yardage and TDs were team game records while Cabe Park set team records in receptions (15), yards (290) and touchdowns (5). That the Raiders didn’t turn over the ball was what might have been the difference in the shootout.
“To have 50 attempts with no interceptions, that’s pretty incredible,” Park said. “I think he really only made one really bad decision that could’ve been picked off but other than that he was very good, rolled out when he had to and ran when he had to.”
While Krug broke Dick Bowley’s 1968 passing TD mark of six against Moniteau, he also passed the former Raiders standout who went on to punt at Georgia Tech in career passing yardage. Krug moved up to No. 3 on the team’s all-time list and now sits at 3,411 yards, now behind Jon Guth (4,033) and Ben Marzullo (3,710). Bowley, the uncle of current Raiders line coach Gabe Bowley, finished with 2,895 yards.
This is the 64th meeting between the Rovers and Raiders and first since 2010. The Rovers lead the series, 31-29-3.
C-L (1-0) at
The Lions head to McKean County’s county seat, or Hub, to play the “Hubbers” who had their way with Smethport last Saturday afternoon in a 54-6 drubbing of Sheffield.
Quarterback Grant Ognen completed four passes for 135, three of them going for touchdowns and two to Bryent Johnson. Running back Blake Kinner ran for 89 yards on just five carries and blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Nathan Hollowell ran for 57 yards on seven carries.
All of the Hubbers’ skill guys are back, leading to the Small School North coaches to give them the nod as division favorite in the preseason coaches poll.
“They’re a big physical team and it starts with their running back (Kinner),” Eggleton said. “He’s a big guy who runs hard, probably over 200 pounds. He’s a big kid with a couple others who are great athletes and they have some size on the line. I can see why they do have some high expectations.”
And it could very well be an early indicator on how Class 1A contenders stack up. Both the Lions and Hubbers would obviously be in at least the early hunt.
“This game goes a long way in the early running who is in the top tier of Class 1A,” Eggleton said. “ECC kind of put their name up there (34-14 win over Curwensville) and this could be a type of win like that for us and could put us in that conversation. We want to have that confidence in-house that we can beat good team on the road with a trip like this.
“It’s a challenge, a venue nobody this team has played in before with our guys and we’re hoping to come out and meet that challenge.”
Austin Newcomb’s opening performance against Union/A-C Valley was a big boost for the Lions. He scored three TDs to start the game from three different directions — kickoff, running and receiving. He finished with 151 yards rushing on 13 carries and 127 yards receiving on six catches.
“He’s the fastest kid on the field,” Eggleton said. “I don’t know if I’ve coached a kid this fast. He has a gear that most kids don’t have.”
Eggleton was just as impressed with his defense blanking Union/ACV and limiting it to just 64 rushing yards.
“Jim Gunning had a sack, led the team in tackles and looked like a man amongst boys out there at nose guard and it was phenomenal to see how far he’s come from last year,” Eggleton said.
Kyle Bottaro had a standout game and actually had to change his jersey number before the end of the game when he had to fill in on the offensive line.
Eggleton said that lineman Justin Goodman, who missed the first game with an off-the-field injury, should be back in the lineup eventually. His status for Friday was uncertain.