One Of Bobcats’ Greatest Seasons Comes To A Close In State Quarterfinals (11/26/17)
With one of the greatest fan turnouts, both in numbers and enthusiasm,the Clarion Area Football Team has seen in our thirteen seasons at Memorial Stadium, on Saturday(November 25th) the Cats were looking to bring home a victory, and advance to the PIAA State Class AA semifinals. But it just wasn’t to be, as the Bobcats fell to Wilmington 33-6.
The Cats finished one of the finest seasons in school history, finishing at 12-1, with the last ever KSAC Big School championship and the District Nine Class AA championship under their belts. In a fantastic two year run, the Bobcats have gone 21-3 and lost only one regular season game. Clarion’s three losses in that span all came to District Champions: Karns City in last year’s regular season – the Gremlins were D9 AAA champs; Kane in the 2016 D9 AA championship game and Wilmington, this year’s D10 AA champion. The Cats defeated D5 AA champion Chestnut Ridge in the opening round of the state playoffs, only the second state playoff win in school history.
This team was also the one to record the 500th victory in school history and the majority of this year’s players were on the 2016 team that notched Coach Wiser’s 200th win.
Seniors who played their last game for the Orange and Black include: Clayton Adams, Zak Bauer, Nick Cherico, Sterling Conner, Traeson Douglas, Tom Hearst, Ryley McMaster, Spencer Miller, Seth Nellis, Colton Rapp, Jacob Selker, Colt Stimmell, Keeven Weaver, Thomas Wurster and Brendan Zerfoss.
The Cats received the opening kickoff but were forced into a punting situation, but with a miscue the punt didn’t get off and the Greyhounds recovered at the Clarion one. One play later, Robert Pontius took the ball in.Jacob Winters added the PAT and Wilmington led 7-0.
After the kickoff, Clarion set up shop at their own 16. On the first play from scrimmage, Spencer Miller dropped back and hit tight end Thomas Wurster down the middle of the field at the Clarion 48. Wurster out jumped the Wilmington defender hauled the ball in and out ran the defense for an 84 yard touchdown. The PAT failed and the score was 7-6, with 10:15 left in the first quarter.
Several series into the second quarter, Logan Minich who was playing with his left arm in a cast due to a hand injury in the opening round game, had a great one arm interception of a Wilmington pass.
Bryson Verrelli scored on an 85 yard run, with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter. The kick was good and the Greyhounds led 14-6. Colton Marrett hauled in a 7 yard touchdown pass from Cammeron Marrett, at 6:06, Logan Minich blocked the kick and Wilmington led 20-6. Winters hit on a 42 yard field goal, with twenty-two seconds left in the half and the Hounds took a 23-6 lead to the locker room.
A Winters 33 yard field goal at 7:58 of the third and a Pontius 1 yard touchdown and a Winters PAT, with thirty-nine seconds left in the same stanza, set the final.
Some key Bobcat stats and milestones:
Colton Rapp finished the season with 1002 rushing yards, his second thousand yard season in a row, with 14 touchdowns. He just missed going over 4000 career yards, capping his fine career at 3942, second only to Kyle Cathcart on the Bobcats all-time yardage list.
Spencer Miller finished with 1030 passing yards and 9 touchdowns. He finished his stellar career with 2123 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also ran for 557 yards on 62 carries, scoring 10 touchdowns, this season. He had 133 tackles this year, finishing with 20 tackles against the Greyhounds.
Zak Bauer had 133 tackles this season, including 41 for loss, with 9 coming against the Greyhounds. He had 62 pancake blocks. Colt Stimmell had 91 tackles, 41 for loss and 41 pancake blocks.
Junior Logan Minich finished with 908 yards rushing on 126 carries, with 12 touchdowns and had 231 receiving yards and a touchdown. He had 10 tackles against Wilmington, two for loss.
Junior Archer Mills finished the season converting on 56 of 64 PATs and was 3 for 4 in field goal attempts.
Keeven Weaver had 10 tackles in the Bobcats’ final 2017 game.
Wilmington will play Washington High in the semifinals. Wilmington looks very formidable and the best to them in their game against the Prexies.
(This weeks Cat Quotes feature Thomas Wurster who has had a stellar career for the Bobcats, offensively and defensively. Thomas who leads the Cats on to the field, carrying the Stars and Stripes. is planning to join the U.S. Marines after graduation. He summed up the brotherhood of this tight knit team; and Coach Wiser, who in addition to comments on the game, shares his thanks for his team, coaches and various individuals who are the backbone of the Bobcats great success.)
Thomas Wurster: The season: we outweighed everybody’s opinion about us pretty much. We brought in that KSAC Large (Championship) and got that District Nine (Class AA Title) win too. We put in that work in the summer. That really brought us together as a team, made us come together as a winning football team for the school.
We’re more than friends, we’re brothers, we’re family. After tonight, I’m pretty sure we can all agree, we’re brothers tonight. We are family. Doesn’t have to be blood; it’s all in our hearts. Fantastic.
(On some of the background work the coaches do) I appreciate everything they do. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. It takes everybody.
Coach Larry Wiser: I want to compliment this senior class. They lost one regular season game in the last two years. Came very close to winning a district title, district runner-up last year, winning the district title and winning the first round and getting to the final eight. That’s quite an accomplishment.
I always emphasize, at the beginning of the year, you can have talent, but it’s got to come together. We talk about chemistry and that is something this group had. I think they liked each other. They played for each other, they supported each other out there.
My staff did a fantastic job out there. We ran into a very good football team out there today. From a personal standpoint, I think there are a few things that maybe I could have done a little differently. They broke some big plays and we didn’t sustain ourselves offensively to keep the defense off the field. So in all fairness to the defense, they were out there quite a bit.
They have a couple of outstanding offensive linemen over there (Wilmington) and defensive linemen.
One thing that impressed me defensively about (Wilmington), which I like to say about Clarion Area’s defense, everyone flows to the ball. I always liked Joe Paterno’s phrase, ‘your personal success on defense depends on where you’re at, at the end of the play,’ are you standing over there watching or are you over here making the tackle. That’s your personal gauge, your measuring stick.
I thought we got the ball to quite a few people this year. I’m proud of the way our kids practiced hard all year. They never took anyone for granted. They prepared each week, the same way. A little goofy week, this week, but they came back from their senior class trip and practiced on Wednesday. And that’s not to make an excuse.Whether or not we practiced Monday of Tuesday, we had to do things a little differently than we did out there.
My hat’s off to these seniors and what they’ve accomplished and the underclassmen for there efforts. Like Logan Minich, out there with a broken hand and he makes a one handed interception today. That was pretty neat. We weren’t sure he was going to be able to play defense. We tried to do some things offensively with him. But it just wasn’t to be.
…Kevin and Vance Slike, the coaching staff I have, it’s pretty impressive. Doc Armstrong, Doc Kennison. The list goes on. What I said at the banquet, It’s never about one person. I get far too much credit. If I get credit for anything, it’s being able to bring good people into the program.
That’s the centerpiece of any good program, having some key people. I don’t even worry about our equipment. Kevin and Vance get it to games and they bring it back. Every member a my staff… I count on Nate (coach McClaine) a lot. He probably should be promoted, if their is such a title (we’re not going to get more pay for him), that’s assistant head coach, because he does a lot of stuff administratively. Lee (coach Weber) and Scott (coach Miller) really stepped it up defensively this year. I have to be honest, being defensive coordinator for a lot of years, it was kind of tough to turn over the reins. But those guys did a great job, taking on that responsibility. When things weren’t going well, they put it on their backs and went about fixing it.
(Another great help to the team is) Tim (coach Amarino) and Shane (coach McKillop) coming in as volunteer coaches.
We need to get kids out. Football is a team sport. People sometimes don’t understand that you are going to be the number one person out there, which is in any successful organization out there from Microsoft to Clarion Football… We’ve had a lot of kids step in to roles, to do something other than what they wanted: to run the ball every play or catch the ball every play or throw the ball every play. But they’ve accepted their role. I’ve probably had three, maybe four linemen that could have been really good running backs. But for the team’s sake that’s where they played. That’s the kind of thing I mean, when I talk about chemistry and accepting your role. I was assistant coach at one time. I enjoyed it and tried to do the job as best I could. I learned from my head coaches, Ray Austin in particular, what to do. And that’s our organization. It should not be just about the person standing at the top. It’s the person that’s propping that person up, to get to the top. And that’s why I’ve spending this much time telling you how important it has been. I would be the last person to sit here and say, ‘Hey it’s been me. I’m the one who did it all. That would be such a lie. That would be such a lie.
And don’t discount our administration and the work of (athletic director) Nancy Mills, (principal) John Kimmell and (superintendent) Mike Stahlman.
One group I also have to mention that is not just talented, but hard working is the Booster Club. Some of the creative things they did, in support of the team, were outstanding. I think that played a major role in helping us, Chris Hearst and her leadership along with many others that were involved. There were quite a few people there, Mrs. Bauer doing the program, Mrs. Rapp being the treasurer and the others. It’s just something else. And I failed to mention last week what our school community and Van in particular does. And Clarion Area Band director Chris Curry has maintained the same support that( former, longtime director) Ron Allaman did. Our high school band is absolutely one of the best. When you’ve got officials and kids on other teams saying, ‘that band is something else,’ …we want to try to keep up with the band.
(I would like to say that in all my years’ involvement with this fine program, I have enjoyed this season more than any, maybe with the exception of my son, coach Nate’s senior year. Senior parents, you know what I mean. This tight knit group, was the epitome of team. They were fantastic representatives of Clarion Area on and off the field. Some of the most courteous young men I have had the pleasure of knowing. Parents and Coaches you should be very, very proud!!!! – Dave)