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|Notes - Both playoff games have been postponed to Saturday. Karns City to play at 1 p.m.; Clearfield set for 6 p.m. kickoff|
By Rich Rhoades
Two District 9 teams continue their postseason this weekend in the PIAA playoffs as Karns City takes on District 5 champion North Star Friday night at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium and Clearfield meets District 10 champion Strong Vincent at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m.
Here is a closer look at the games:
Karns City (11-1) vs.
North Star (10-1), Memorial Field, Clarion University, 7 p.m.
(Changed to 1 p.m. Saturday)
(Changed to 1 p.m. Saturday)
This is the seventh trip to the state playoffs for the District 9 champion Gremlins, who are still looking for their first victory.
While North Star brings solid credentials, this may be the Gremlins’ best shot. And why not? The Gremlins are humming along nicely, coming off a dominating 42-9 win over Moniteau in the district title game.
Three weeks ago, the Gremlins won on the road at Wilmington, which served notice that the Gremlins are for real. Right now, Karns City and Wilmington are ranked fifth and sixth respectively in the state by the Pennsylvania Football News.
Senior quarterback Anthony Stimac has clearly been the star of the Gremlins late in the season. In the last three weeks in wins over Wilmington, Kane and Moniteau, Stimac has passed for six touchdowns and rushed for six touchdowns, accounting for 12 of the team’s 15 touchdowns.
For the year, Stimac has passed for 857 yards (17 TDs) and rushed for 825 yards (14 TDs), putting him on the verge of a 1,000-1,000 season that until this year, is to believed to never have happened in District 9. Two weeks ago, Clearfield quarterback Jarrin Campman accomplished the milestone.
Stimac’s not alone on the playmaker list for Karns City. Running backs Markus LaVan (590 yards, 3 TDs), Josh Stimac (410 yards, 4 TDs) and Josh Callender (357 yards, 4 TDs) have contributed to the running game. Callender is the team’s top receiver with 15 catches for 232 yards and seven touchdowns.
Lineman Earl Everetts (53 tackles, 5 ½ sacks) and Callender (53 tackles) are the team’s top two tacklers. Defensive end Levi Buck leads the team with nine sacks.
North Star won the District 5 title two weeks ago in a 37-19 win over Chestnut Ridge, then routed Langley of the Pittsburgh City League (District 8) in last week’s state play-in game, 62-14, the first-ever state playoff win by a District 5 school.
In that game, quarterback Cory Kaltenbaugh passed for 126 yards and four touchdowns and Josh Kuncher ran for 171 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Those two have been leaders all season. Kaltenbaugh has thrown for 1,244 yards while Kuncher has rushed for 747 yards and 14 TDs. Mike Knisely has run for 761 yards and 11 scores.
North Star’s only loss came to District 6 Class A undefeated finalist Portage. The Cougars won last year’s Class A district title and nearly won in the state playoffs, falling to eventual state runner-up Serra Catholic, 34-38.
Karns City is making a second home at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium. This will be its fourth game there this year and third in as many weeks. The Gremlins have fared well too, winning all three games. In nine games at CUP overall, Karns City is 5-4.
History hasn’t been kind to District 9 Class AA state playoff teams. Lifetime, they’re 2-17. The only wins have come in 1994 (Brookville over Wilmington) and 2002 (Brockway over Slippery Rock).
This will be the first-ever meeting between Karns City and North Star and the first-ever District 5 opponent for the Gremlins.
Friday’s winner advances to next week’s second round against the WPIAL (District 7) champion, Beaver Falls or Aliquippa, at Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia Friday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m.
(10-2) vs. Erie Strong Vincent (12-0), E.J. Mansell Stadium, DuBois, 7 p.m.
(Changed to 6 p.m. Saturday)
(Changed to 6 p.m. Saturday)
If winning last week’s state play-in game at Pittsburgh against Brashear was huge, matching that accomplishment Friday night against powerful Erie Strong Vincent will probably be off the charts.
As one would expect, it doesn’t get easier for head coach Tim Janocko’s Clearfield Bisons as they take on the top-ranked Colonels of District 10 at DuBois’ E.J. Mansell Stadium.
Strong Vincent, a state semifinalist a year ago, is loaded with college prospects and plenty of speed. The Colonels haven’t been tested all season with five shutouts, including a 62-0 win over Bradford and a 39-0 win over DuBois.
Senior Deonte Flemings, an all-purpose threat, is a player to watch. He’s rushed for 513 yards, passed for 219 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He has five interceptions from his cornerback position on defense and is a dangerous return man, averaging 21.2 yards per punt return and 30.1 yards per kick return.
Strong Vincent has amassed over 3,800 yards of rushing this year and is led by senior halfback Darrell Brooks, who’s rushed for 1,464 yards and 22 touchdowns. Jordan Ferraro (748 yards, 9 TDs) and Emari Tangle (521 yards, 4 TDs) are also threats.
Emmanual Wells, a 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman, leads the team with 88 tackles and nine sacks.
The Bisons have their own playmaker in senior quarterback Jarrin Campman. He’s passed for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 1,270 yards and 25 touchdowns. Running back Isiah Morgan has gained 1,559 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Campman’s top receiving target is younger brother Trey Campman, who has caught 47 balls for 580 yards and five scores. Brandon Sass has 18 receptions for 387 yards and Derek Danver has 15 catches for 219 yards.
In last week’s 24-21 win at Cupples Stadium over Brashear, Campman ran for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
Last week’s win over Brashear was the first Clearfield state playoff win since 2002 when the Dave Richards-led Bisons blasted District 6 champion Indian Valley, 41-12, also in DuBois. Mansell Stadium was also the site of one of the team’s two losses this year, a 35-28 loss to the Beavers in a game that came down to the last play on a Beavers goal-line stand.
Clearfield, now 3-6 in state playoff games, won its only other state playoff game back in 1994 when the Bisons, led by quarterback Chad Kroell, defeated State College in the Class AAAA playoffs in Punxsutawney.
This is the second meeting between Clearfield and Strong Vincent. The Colonels beat the Bisons, 52-7, way back in 1948. Clearfield hasn’t played a District 10 school since losing to Erie Central in the playoff round following its win over State College in 1994. The Bisons haven’t beaten a District 10 school since a 22-20 win over Erie East in 1992.
Friday’s winner advances to the second round next Friday or Saturday against WPIAL (District 7) champion Thomas Jefferson or Blackhawk at a site and time to be announced.