Bulldogs, Vikings ascending

The matchup

Who: Claysburg-Kimmel at Glendale

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: Dr. Roy F. Baker Memorial Field, Flinton

Records: Both teams are 3-1 overall and in the Inter-County Conference.

Coaches: Claysburg-Kimmel — Matt Bilchak, 10-6, 2nd season. Glendale — Spank Trexler, 3-1, 1st season.

Last meeting: C-K won, 19-12 last year at home

The Claysburg-Kimmel High School football program is one that is on the rise.

The Bulldogs have qualified for the District 6 Class 1A playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and last year, Claysburg-Kimmel gave Juniata Valley — an eventual District 6 champion and PIAA semifinalist — all it could handle before succumbing, 21-20 in the district quarterfinals.

Claysburg, which is gearing up for even more improvement this season under second-year head coach Matt Bilchak, is 3-1 and riding the positive momentum of three consecutive victories into tonight’s 7 p.m. Inter-County Conference showdown with Glendale at Dr. Roy F. Baker Memorial Field.

Glendale, under first-year coach Spank Trexler, also carries a 3-1 record into tonight’s game. The Vikings are showing signs of marked improvement after last year’s 1-9 finish.

Bilchak said that his team is embracing this week’s challenge.

“This kind of begins the start of a pretty long road stretch that we’re going to be facing,” said Bilchak, whose team also has upcoming road games at Juniata Valley and Southern Huntingdon and a formidable home matchup with Northern Bedford over the next five weeks. “It’s a great challenge for our team to be going on the road and making a long trip to play a great team like Glendale. Can we be focused and mentally prepared when it comes time to step off the bus and handle our business?”

Trexler believes that C-K presents a challenge as well.

“Claysburg is going to be a very tough challenge,” Trexler said. “They are very physical, experienced, and very well-coached.”

In the past three weeks, Claysburg has handled its business well. After suffering a 48-6 season-opening shellacking at the hands of Tussey Mountain on their home field, the Bulldogs have responded by defeating Williamsburg (43-14), West Branch (39-13) and Moshannon Valley (30-0).

Junior quarterback Corey Chamberlain has led Claysburg’s passing attack by completing 21 of 50 passes for 490 yards and six touchdowns, while senior running back Kobe Harr has rushed for 225 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns, and caught four passes for 113 yards and two more scores.

Senior halfback Zach Claycomb has rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown, and also has three touchdown receptions among his four catches for 223 yards.

Senior fullback Seth Musselman has rushed for 191 yards on 42 carries and one touchdown, and junior back Joseph Noah has scored three rushing touchdowns on 15 carries for 97 yards, while also catching a 68-yard touchdown pass.

“(Claysburg) can hurt you in a variety of ways on offense,” Trexler said.

The Bulldogs have adapted and responded on offense.

“The thing that has been kind of special this year is that there hasn’t been one particular star who has shined,” Bilchak said. “We’ve had some injuries, and we’ve had some kids step into different roles and do some things that maybe they weren’t planning on doing at the beginning of the year.”

Glendale is coming off a 44-20 road victory over rival West Branch. The Vikings have also defeated Everett (6-2) and Williamsburg (26-14). Their only loss came 48-0 to unbeaten Bellwood-Antis.

“The players are really committed to getting better each day,” Trexler said. “They want to win, and of course, that is always the goal, but they are focused on controlling what they can control. They are very motivated and work hard every practice, and are beginning to understand that the scoreboard will take care of itself.”

Like Claysburg, Glendale has enjoyed a diversified offensive attack. Senior running back Seth Dudurich leads the Vikings’ ground game with 292 yards on 52 carries and two touchdowns, while senior backs Tristin Rutter (39 carries, 268 yards, three touchdowns) and Cory Johnston (32 carries, 169 yards, three touchdowns) have also been solid contributors. Johnston has also caught a TD pass.

Sophomore quarterback Garret Misiura has completed 14 of 29 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, while junior wideout Baine Seilhamer has five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Bilchak and his players have taken a step-by-step approach toward the season.

“We’re just focusing on the next opponent, and this big matchup with Glendale,” Bilchak said. “Our conference is so tough that if you look too far ahead, somebody is going to surprise you. We’re taking that next step toward being a more successful program within the conference.”