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Forfeits having major impact

On Wednesday, two more District 6 football games, Bishop Carroll at Bellefonte and Portage at Conemaugh Valley were canceled.

Those games joined the Clearfield at Philipsburg-Osceola game, which was called off on Monday. The Mounties will also be forfeiting their game at Penns Valley next week.

Bellefonte, Portage and Clearfield all pick up wins by forfeit and get points toward playoffs — important for all three and one of a few reasons you won’t see them playing each other this weekend.

First of all, Bellefonte and Clearfield have already played once this season, a Red Raiders victory on Sept. 27 at Bellefonte, and will likely play again in the District 6-9 Class 4A championship game.

Bellefonte leads Clearfield by an extremely narrow margin for the top seed, which could be important. District 6 football chairman Ralph Cecere confirmed to the Mirror on Wednesday that Bradford, currently 1-7 and holding the No. 4 seed in the 4A playoff bracket, has opted out of the playoffs and will not participate. That means, unless 3-5 Juniata also opts out, the top seed will get a bye and the second seed will be forced to play in a semifinal game.

Bellefonte closes out its regular season next week at Bald Eagle Area (7-1), currently the top seed in the Class 3A playoffs. If the Red Raiders lose that game, and Clearfield beats Bishop Carroll in its regular season finale, the top seed will go to the Bison.

Speaking of that game against the Huskies, Bishop Carroll principal Lorie Ratchford sent a statement to the Mirror Wednesday saying, “the decision not to play this Friday is due to injuries and low numbers. Once I have information regarding the rest of the season then I will certainly email you.”

The statement was a response to an inquiry about whether BC’s game Friday was postponed due to low numbers or something related to Tuesday’s public meeting on the status of head coach Sean Billings, who returned to the sideline last week after being cleared by police of any criminal wrongdoing regarding a report of medication being given to football players.

That certainly leaves Bishop Carroll’s final home game against Clearfield scheduled for next week in doubt.

When contacted by the Mirror via text message and asked if he’s heard anything about the status of Clearfield’s game against Bishop Carroll, Bison coach Tim Janocko responded, “no I haven’t.”

Janocko may actually prefer to end up the second seed and get a game against Juniata, considering if Bishop Carroll forfeits next week, and Clearfield gets the top seed, the Bison may go from playing their last game on the field Oct. 11 to not playing again until the District 6-9 title game on Nov. 8 or 9.

Now, for the other part of the equation.

With Portage not playing this week, why wouldn’t the Mustangs try reaching out to Bellefonte or Clearfield for a game?

Beyond the obvious size differential, Portage is a 1A school while Bellefonte and Clearfield are both 4A, the Mustangs need a win this week, specifically a win against a WestPAC opponent.

The forfeit win over Conemaugh Valley puts Portage into the Appalachian Bowl, the game pitting the top WestPAC team versus the top Heritage Conference team (Ligonier Valley). Because Portage goes in if it ends up in a three-way tie with Berlin Brothersvalley and Meyersdale, finishing 8-1 in the conference is important. If Portage scheduled another game, the forfeit victory would not count, and even if the Mustangs defeated Clearfield or Bellefonte, they would miss out on splitting the WestPAC title and a shot to play in the Appalachian Bowl.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 946-7521. Follow him on Twitter for scholastic updates @BoytimMichael

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