The Bellefonte football team was the talk of the town after its win over Tyrone last Friday.
Red Raiders coach Shanon Manning heard from old coaching colleagues he hadn’t spoken with in a few years and former players who helped lay the foundation for this season. In the hallways, classmates congratulated football players on the program’s first win over Tyrone since 1993.
“I was really surprised how much the community still pays attention to Bellefonte football,” Manning said. “I was shocked. I’ve got texts, emails, you name it, a lot of people very interested and very proud of the kids.”
Manning understands the significance of the win, but he said his team has its sights set on the postseason. The Red Raiders (3-2) have an opportunity to boost their resume when they take on Clearfield (4-1) on the road Friday night.
The Bison are on a four-game winning streak after falling to DuBois in their season opener. Bellefonte is enjoying a successful start after going 6-24 in the last three seasons.
“I think we’re getting to the point where it’s competitive every week and that’s the goal, to get it to be a competitive program, give yourself a chance to win in the fourth quarter,” Manning said.
The Red Raiders have done that in every game this season. They’ve lost two games by a combined eight points.
In both setbacks, they overcame deficits before falling short. In the 14-13 win over Tyrone, they trailed 13-0.
“I learned at Jersey Shore that they’ll swing, I’ve learned at Central Mountain they keep swinging, I learned when they’re down by 13 at Tyrone in the fourth quarter, they’ll keep swinging,” Manning said. “As long as we’re on the field, these kids seem to believe that they have a chance to win the football game.”
Now, the coach is working to make adjustments to get more out of his team.
“You watch Clearfield and Tyrone on tape, their level of offensive execution is unbelievable and that’s what we keep striving to do,” Manning said. “We really want to get to where we see these other teams on tape where our offensive execution gives us a shot at every play. That’s where the program keeps trying to build.”
Still, the program has shown growth since last season.
The Red Raiders had opportunities in three close games, but they didn’t make the plays to come out on top.
This season, they’ve made more of those plays. Last Friday against Tyrone, Tyler Kreger connected with Tanner Helms for an 80-yard touchdown to take a 14-13 lead with 11:45 left.
The defense was determined to maintain that lead.
Kreger could feel the intensity in every huddle.
“I could just see it in every guy’s eyes that we wanted to win this game and we weren’t going to let anything beat us,” Kreger said.
Kreger grabbed an interception with a little more than a minute remaining to seal the win.
They heard from plenty of classmates in school Monday.
“Oh my gosh, everybody was like, ‘Congratulations on the win. You guys beat Tyrone. How long has it been?’” defensive lineman Eli Lipscomb said, beaming with pride.
But with Clearfield looming, the Red Raiders refocused this week.
Said Lipscomb: “Now we’re just like in serious mode.”