Central footbal looking at 3-0 as Bison come to town
Central has started its football season off on the right track, with two victories in its first two games.
The Scarlet Dragons are hoping to add another notch in their collective belts Friday night, but veteran coach Dave Baker knows the task won’t be an easy one.
Central will have its work cut out against Clearfield and its Boston College-bound quarterback, Christian Lezzer, in a Mountain League showdown.
Kickoff between the two teams, who are both 2-0 overall, is set for 7 p.m. at the Roaring Spring Athletic Field.
“We hope that it’s a good game,” Baker said of Friday’s matchup. “[Clearfield is] plenty good, and they’ve been plenty successful. Even though it’s early in the season, we know that it’s one of the games that will go a long way in determining the championship in the Mountain League. We’re anxious to get going, but we know that it’s going to be a tough game.”
Among the biggest challenges Central faces will be controlling the multi-talented 6-foot, 215-pound Lezzer, who runs the ball as well, if not better, than he throws it.
In Clearfield’s first two games, a 45-7 season-opening rout of St. Joan of Arc (Ontario) and last week’s 37-15 win over Penns Valley, the mobile Lezzer rushed for a total of 308 yards on 33 carries – a 9.3 yards per carry average – and six touchdowns. He’s also completed seven of 17 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s a big-time all-around football player,” Baker said of Lezzer, who also plays outside linebacker on defense for Clearfield. “He’s a really good runner, a good passer, and a great defensive player. You can’t just let him run all over the field on you. Obviously, we’re going to have to try to contain him as both a runner and a passer. If you do that, you have a chance to compete with them.”
Clearfield also boasts an outstanding senior tailback in 5-foot-10, 180-pound Tyler Stratton, who has rushed for 152 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
Clearfield has played well on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the first two weeks.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job executing our game plan offensively and defensively,” said Tim Janocko, who is in his 29th season as the Bisons’ head coach. “We’ve been pretty sound. We’ve tackled pretty well, and we’ve stayed away from big mistakes.”
Led by senior quarterback Austin Cunningham and senior halfback Bradi Moore, Central has also been impressive in defeating Chestnut Ridge (33-6) in the season opener and Tyrone (25-12) last week.
“They’re an outstanding team,” Janocko said of the Scarlet Dragons. “Dave Baker has done a great job with them.”
Cunningham has completed 15 of 24 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 175 yards on 22 carries – a 7.9 yards-per-carry average – and three TDs. Moore had rushed for 135 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns, while catching 10 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.
“Those two are playmakers for them, there’s no question,” Janocko said of Cunningham and Moore. “But they have an outstanding overall team, with a lot of other good offensive players as well.”
Central has a pair of solid victories to its credit, and Baker hopes that the Scarlet Dragons can continue on the trend they’ve started.
“I thought we were able to play pretty consistently and stay pretty much in control of the game against two solid football teams,” Baker said of his team’s victories over Ridge and Tyrone. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play Clearfield, but we know it will be a difficult chore to beat them.”