Central gets a lot of attention for the big-play threats on offense like Austin Cunningham and Bradi Moore, but veteran Scarlet Dragon coach Dave Baker has long held a special place in his heart for good defense.
He likes his defense to get a good test to see how it performs. Tonight, that's what the Dragons will get.
Coming off a huge shutout win against Tyrone, Central will go on the road to face Clearfield and Tim Janocko's always-potent offense in a clash of 2-0 Mountain League high school football squads.
Kickoff at the Bison Sports Complex is 7 p.m.
"We should be able to make an effort and not think that this is too much. It's not too much.
It's where we want to be," Baker said.
The Dragons are leading the area in scoring. However, that's somewhat overshadowed by the fact that Central ranks third in the area in points against.
Having faced two of the traditional more prolific offensive teams in the area in the first two weeks in Chestnut Ridge and Tyrone, Central only has surrendered 337 yards. Tyrone had gone 113 straight regular season games without being shut out before the Dragons blanked it, 28-0, in Roaring Spring last Friday.
Todd Slick leads the Dragons in the early going with 15 tackles, while Cunningham has 13 and Jared Ponder 12.
"We try to use the principles that we have always used my entire life and the players to try to react to their formations and adjust to them," said Baker, who is in his 34th year as a head coach.
Clearfield, though, figures to be the ultimate test for the Dragon defense, at least before the postseason. The Bison averaged 34.3 points per game in advancing to the PIAA Class AAA playoffs the last two years.
This season has started off as more of the same - Clearfield has scored 82 points and rolled up 739 yards.
Unlike past years, though, the Bison don't seem to be putting the ball in the air as much.
"We see them as a different type of offense in that it's a totally shotgun spread type of offense," Baker said, "but, in some ways, it's almost like a power I because they have four backs in the backfield."
Having graduated Curtis Frye, Clearfield coach Tim Janocko has moved standout junior Christian Lezzer from receiver to quarterback. Lezzer has rushed for 146 yards, while Tyler Stratton has rambled for 216.
When the Bison draw opponents in, wideout Trey Jordan has made them pay with seven receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
"We may not be throwing as much as in the past, but it's the same offense," Janocko said. "So far, we're pleased with a lot of things. We're still growing up."
Clearfield has rushed for more yards in each of its games than Central has given up in the first two combined.
"They go to the ball really well. They are pretty quick," Janocko said of Central's defense. "It should be a great game. I'm looking forward to it. It's a lot of fun."
This is expected to be the most competitive game on Clearfield's schedule so far. Central, meanwhile, is one week removed from a very emotional win, but Baker doesn't expect a letdown.
"Kids should not be able to play two tough teams in a row. They are kids. They can do this. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing for us, because we don't have anybody hurt," Baker said. "You always have to guard against [overconfidence], but they know that Clearfield is very, very good."
That point has been driven home by Bison wins over the Dragons each of the last four years.
"One thing I like about this team is this is a pretty tough group mentally," Baker said. "This would be a really outstanding win if we can pull it off."