Penns Valley (1-0) at Clearfield (1-0)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: PV — Martin Tobias, 17th season; C — Tim Janocko
Last meeting: C learfield 47-0, last season
Key players: PV — Cameron Tobias, QB, Taylor Collison RB/WR; C — Christian Lezzer, QB, Tyler Stratton, RB
The skinny: Penns Valley avenged last season’s 45-7 defeat to Juniata by pushing past the Indians 21-16 in the season opener.
Another chance for revenge comes Friday when the Rams travel to Clearfield, which steamrolled them 47-0 in week two last year.
After winning five of six games to end last season, Penns Valley brings a veteran bunch to the table this time.
“I’m sure that will certainly help,” Rams head coach Martin Tobias said. “But it’s still going to be a monumental task. Clearfield is an outstanding football team and they have a lot of fantastic players and talent.”
The Rams (1-0) might enter the game with more maturity, but so will the Bison and their talented quarterback/running back tandem of Christian Lezzer and Tyler Stratton.
Lezzer, a senior quarterback, led the Bison with 1,445 passing yards and 1,444 rushing yards. He also added 20 passing touchdowns, 21 rushing and one receiving score.
Stratton, also a senior, rushed for 1,151 yards and added 14 scores on the ground and one in the air.
As strong as the pair has been, Tobias sees an unsung key to Clearfield’s success.
“So many people focus on their skill guys, but their guys up front are really good,” Tobias said. “They are the ones that make everything happen for their skill guys.”
Last weekend the Bison pounded St. Joan of Arc Catholic Academy from Ontario, Canada.
Lezzer cruised for 147 yards on just 14 carries and added three scores. Stratton, who played sparingly because of an injury, rushed just three times for four yards.
However, freshman Seth Caldwell picked up the slack, rushing for 123 yards on 17 carries and one score.
Lezzer also threw for 64 yards and a score on 4-for-7 passing.
With an offense that potent, Penns Valley’s best defense might be a ball-controlling offense.
“Absolutely,” Tobias said. “We have to take care of the ball, and be productive with the ball. The more we can keep the ball out of their hands the better our opportunities.”
Last week, the Rams jumped out to a 14-0 halftime lead that became 21-0 in the third quarter before the Indians tallied twice to make it interesting.
Quarterback Cameron Tobias, a senior, led the way with 143 yards passing and three touchdowns. Junior running back Cory Hazel rushed 17 times for 149 yards, while senior back Taylor Collison added 76 yards on eight carries. Collison also gained 87 more yards on three receptions.
“We have a nice group that we can spread the ball around to,” Tobias said. “It comes back to our (offensive) line. We’ve really been pleased with the progress they are making.”
The Bison defense could put a crimp in that plan however.
Senior linebackers Seth Ford and Wyatt Flanagan each had sacks in week one, while defensive backs Jake Lansberry and Jake Wingate each picked off passes.
Last year, Clearfield allowed Penns Valley just 156 total yards and only six first downs.
Stratton actually picked off a pass just 17 seconds into the game and returned it for a touchdown. The Bison forced two turnovers and scored three times in the first 4:06.
“We’re looking forward to getting to compete against one of the best teams in the area,” Tobias said. “Because it’s going to help us see where we’re at.”