The Funding Zone

Clearfield’s Defense Comes Up Big Against St. Marys

Tagged under: District 9, Gameday Hub, News, Playoffs

| November 12, 2022


Clearfield Bison, District 9 Class AAA Champs. Photo by Rich Murawski of the Clearfield Progress.

On a very rainy night in Brockway thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Nicole, Clearfield’s defense was the difference in the Bison’s 13-7 victory over the St. Marys Flying Dutchmen.  Yes, the ground game for Clearfield scored two touchdowns and, at times in the first half, was hard to stop.  But it was the defense that came up big time after time on this night.  The win propelled the Bison to their third straight District Nine AAA crown.  In each of those games they’ve beaten St. Marys.  Coach Tim Janocko of Clearfield said, “That game is one they’re going to remember for a while.”  Clearfield, now 8-3, will play the winner of the Penn Cambria and Central Martinsburg game next week at a site and day to be determined.

“I’m really happy for our kids.  We fought all year.  We had some adversity and injuries and everything like that.  We put ourselves in a situation to win a district championship.  I’m very happy for them,” stated Janocko.

Clearfield’s Joe Knee with the almost interception. Photo by Chris Wechtenhiser of the CourierExpress.

Isaac Samsel, Joe Knee, Zach Billotte, Eric Myers, and Nolan Rockmore don’t get a lot of print because they are in the trenches, but they were difference makers against the Flying Dutch offense in this D-9 AAA championship game.  Samsel even had a 61-yard punt in the 4th quarter to pin St. Marys inside their five.  “He’s been huge for us all year.  He’s definitely a college player,” said Janocko.  One other name that must be added to the heroes of the Bison defense is linebacker Isaac Putt.

After the Flying Dutchmen’s Alex Lukaschunis stole the ball off of Clearfield’s Brady Collins with 2:28 left on the clock, St. Marys drove the ball to the Clearfield 8-yard line with 28 seconds remaining and was threatening to tie the game or take the lead.  Mr. Putt then made perhaps the grandest play of the evening for the Bison when he intercepted a second down halfback option pass in the end zone with 22 seconds remaining in the game to seal the win for his team.  Coach Janocko said they were ready for that play because they had seen them use it against Punxsutawney.

Clearfield’s ‘D’ did allow St. Marys to briefly take a 7-6 lead when the Dutch drove 70 yards in 8 plays on their first possession of the game.  Charlie Coudriet and Carter Chadsey hooked up for a 3-yard scoring pass, and Gianna Surra kicked the PAT to put St. Marys out in front at the 4-minute mark of the first quarter.  The Flying Dutchmen never scored again.  Five of St. Marys’ next seven drives ended up in Clearfield territory, but the Bison defense yielded no points.  Three of those drives ended in the red zone and two of them inside the ten including the drive that ended in the game saving pick by Putt.

Chris Dworek, the St. Marys head coach had this to say about the game, “We had our chances to score and take advantage of some stuff and we just couldn’t do it.  That’s the thing the kids have to realize, that it was a disappointing ending, but we had a lot of chances during the game to do something about it.”  Asked about the effect the rain had, Coach Dworek said, “There were times we couldn’t throw the ball quite far enough and a couple times the ball went through our hands.  The interference calls were big as we had open receivers, but we couldn’t take advantage.”  Four times Clearfield was whistled for pass interference when St. Marys had the ball in Bison territory, but the defense rebounded and refused to yield a score after any of those calls.

Aiden Graffius of Clearfield in black defends against Collin Reitz of St. Marys whose diving effort almost comes up with the TD. Photo by Chris Wechtenhiser.

The Bison scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and after that the St. Marys defense settled in and didn’t allow much.  In fact, Clearfield gained 132 yards on those first couple of drives and had 47 total yards the rest of the game.  The Bison touchdowns were scored by Brady Collins and Carter Chamberlain.  Collins scored on a 14-yard run and gave Clearfield a 6-0 lead after the Bison drove 53 yards in 8 plays.  In the second quarter, Chamberlain plowed in from a yard out to give Clearfield the 13-7 lead that they held the rest of the game.  That capped a 70-yard drive that took 12 plays.

Coach Dworek stated, “Clearfield is a good team, they’re a good program and you can’t let them off the hook too many times or they’ll make you pay.  And they made us pay.”  He also said that the reason his defense played so well after the first two Clearfield series was that the coaches made a couple minor adjustments and the Dutch defense just started playing more physical.

Collins led all rushers with 120 yards on 28 carries.  Clearfield had 179 total yards, all of which was on the ground.  They only attempted one pass the whole game.  The Bison quarterback, Will Domico, got hurt the last week of the season and is out for the playoffs.  Jacob Samsel has taken over the QB duties and did very well in the pouring rain receiving the snaps from the center and handing the ball off especially in the new Wing-T formations Clearfield has added to its offense.

Coudriet completed his first six passes and 9 of his first 11, but the rain, which became harder as the game wore on, hampered himself and his receivers thereafter as he only completed 4 of his last 19 throws.  He finished 13 of 30 for 166 yards and the touchdown.  Logan Mosier led the St. Marys receivers with 7 catches for 100 yards.  The Flying Dutch gained 214 yards for the game but only 48 rushing yards on 24 carries.  St. Marys finishes the year with a 7-5 record.

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