Bobcats Claim Fourth Straight KSAC Football Small School Title With Homecoming Win (10/13/13)

Katis Throws For Over 300 Yards; Slike With Over 200 Yards Total Offense, Eclipses Career 2000 Rushing Yards Mark

With a 50-0 Homecoming win over next door rival Redbank Valley, on Friday at Memorial Stadium, the Clarion High Football Team won their fourth straight KSAC Small School Title.

In essence this was a winner take all Championship Game, as both schools entered the contest undefeated in the Small School Division. The Bobcats entered the game at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Division. The Bulldogs entered with a 4-2 overall record and a 3-0 Division mark. With the first tie-breaker being the head to head result, each team’s remaining Small School game result became moot.

John Katis and Damien Slike led the way. John completed 11 of 13 passes for 328 yards, and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions and two carries for eight yards. John now has 2872 total career passing yards, as he inches closer to the 3000 yard plateau. John’s total is 12 yards more than expected. In checking out the stats on MaxPreps, I found that John had 2 completions for 12 yards as a freshman that I missed in earlier reports.

And for Damien, it was 11 carries, 128 yards, three rushing touchdowns, one covering 86 yards; 3 receptions, for 96 yards and 2 two touchdowns; a 20 yard kickoff return; 244 total yards. Plus 9 tackles.

His rushing yardage, in the game, pushed his career total to 2004 yards. Slike also now has 3381 career all-purpose yards.

 (Photo by Bri Nellis – Slike makes a leaping catch from John Katis.

(Photo by Bri Nellis – Slike makes a leaping catch from John Katis.

The Bobcats first score came with just over eight minutes left in the first half. Katis hit Cody Hearst with a 24 yard pass to the Redbank 18 yard line. After two running plays, Katis hit Hearst for a first down at the five. From there Slike took a pitch around left end for the touchdown. Antonio Troese kicked the PAT, his first on a perfect 7 for 7 night, giving Clarion a 7-0 lead.

Redbank, which was particularly tough up the middle much of the game, caused fumbles on the Cats next two possessions, recovering both.

But the Bulldogs possession, after the second recovery ended with a Brendan Miller interception, giving the Bobcats the ball at the Redbank thirty-six. On the first play, Katis hit Tanner Corbett, who caught the ball in stride at the as he was crossing the goal line. The Cats led 14-0 at 10:30 of the second quarter.

Tanner Corbett had a nice 17 yard run to midfield, on Clarion’s next possession. From there, Katis hit Troese with a pass that moved the ball to the Redbank three. Then Slike followed some great line surge through the middle for the touchdown. And with the PAT, the Cats’ lead moved to 21-0.

Later, with a second and ten at the Clarion forty-six, Katis hit Slike, who made a fine leaping catch, moving the ball to Redbank’s twenty. A swing pass to Hearst moved the ball to the five. From there, Katis hit a wide open Slike, in the in the left side of the end zone, on a play action pass. With 2:38 left in the half.

Thomas Plummer was the recipient of the next scoring pass, wrestling a Katis’ throw from a defender at the Bulldog thirteen and taking it in for a forty-eight yard score. The Cats moved the lead to 36-0, at the half.

After Lady Cat Volleyball, Basketball and Track standout Kyla Miles was crowned as the 2013 Homecoming Queen, during halftime festivities, the Bobcats went back to work.

Katis hit Slike from Redbank’s forty-seven, with a little 3 or 4 yard pass over the middle. Slike took over from there breaking some tackles and using some nice moves and turning on the speed taking it the rest of the way for a highlight reel score at 9:03, in the third and with the successful PAT, the score moved to 42-0.

Then, Redbank put together a nice drive, starting at their own twenty-eight, eating up over seven minutes off the clock, with a nice mix of running plays and some nice pass hookups between Jake Dougherty and his receivers.

But after going all the way to the Clarion 4 yard line, they were turned away on two big plays by Tyler Allen on third and fourth down. Allen knocked down a pass on third down and then recorded a sack, on fourth down, giving the Cats the ball on their own fourteen yard line.

Slike closed out the scoring with his 86 yard touchdown run, with thirty-five seconds left in the third.

The Bulldogs had another scoring opportunity snuffed out by Allen also, as he intercepted a long Redbank pass, at the Redbank 28 with just under 8 minutes left in the game.

The score was not indicative of how tough the Bulldogs played and with a break here or there the score could have been closer. And has been my impression over the years, any time these two teams get together, no matter who wins, no matter what the score, you will see some hitting. This game was no different. And it was a shame that the fans were deprived of seeing two more of the Conference’s premiere backs, as both Redbank’s Mark Strothers and Clarion’s Ian Corbett missed the game with injuries.

Katis, speaking of the Cats’ victory said, “It felt really, really good winning our homecoming against our rival, Redbank, who I consider our number one rival. And winning the Conference Championship, that’s a really big accomplishment for our team. I’m really pleased with our guys. Everyone really stepped up and took a major role tonight in the game.”

Katis spread the ball around to a number of receivers, out of necessity. He commented, “They decided they were going to double cover Cody, all night, so we had to make some adjustments and get the ball to some other guys. Thomas Plummer, Damien Slike, Antonio Troese, Tanner Corbett, they all really stepped up tonight and had phenomenal games. On Damien’s runs after catches, he stated, “Damien got some good YAC, which is yards after catch. He is a beast! And I’m so glad each and every one of those guys on my team, is on my team. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.”

Coach Larry Wiser said this about his signal caller’s game, “That was really, really nice. It’s nice to see that growth. You like to see a kid that steps his game up to another level and I think he did tonight. And I really, really think he did against a really good pass defense team. He had some good pressure on him. That was nice. And I thought our offensive line did a good job of giving him some time to throw the ball back there, too.

“He was seeing the field tonight. He was seeing the field and that’s really neat. That’s what we’re going to need coming down the line, here to finish the season. Actually it’s one of the things we’ve been talking about, the last two or three weeks, about getting more diverse about who we’re getting the ball too. Not just to Cody. Not that Cody doesn’t catch everything thrown his way, so as long as he keeps doing that… We saw at the beginning that they were trying to put their best cover guy on him and maybe a couple of times, double cover him.”

Senior lineman, Damien Cherico spoke of adjustments on the line, “We were figuring out what was working. We got the right things down after we figured out the offense after the first couple of plays. We figured out the defense. And it helped a lot. There was a lot of communication.”

Defensive back Miller credited the defensive line for the success in containing the Bulldogs’ passing game, “Our defensive line was putting lots of pressure on the quarterback all night, so that really helped the coverage. And on Redbank  giving the Cats a game early on said, “ Yeah, it was definitely a game, but we came out a lot harder throughout the game and got it done. Great win but I hope we keep this going.”

Slike, on his big night said, “It felt pretty good. The line opened up big holes and then Johnny was putting the ball on the money all night. I give credit to all them.” On getting more touches in the passing game, he said, “Yeah, that was nice.” On winning the Championship and getting the shutout, he said, “It felt awesome and seeing that goose egg felt even better. ”

Coach Wiser, when asked how it feels to win the fourth in a row said,  “I just really got to thinking about it last night and I said, ‘Yeah, this could be.’  And then I wanted to check at the end of the game, wanted to make sure, ‘Did we really win it tonight?’ I know we still have to play A-C Valley yet. Everybody assured me that we did secure it tonight. It feels pretty good. It feels good about the program, for my coaches and the kids. We’ve got a couple of kids who’ve been on this team for those four years. And that’s pretty impressive, that they’ve come through for that.”

Some game stats:

In spite of being double teamed a lot, Hearst still had 4 catches for 82 yards. Tanner Corbett had 4 carries for 31 yards and 2 receptions for 55 yards and a the touchdown. Ben Babington had 4 carries for 26 yards. Allen had 5 carries for 31 yards.

Destin Strauser had his usual big defensive night with a whopping 17 tackles. Ethan Straffin and Allen each had 12 tackles and a sack. Troese had 8 tackles and an interception.

(Thanks to MaxPreps for the Clarion stats in this article.  Redbank stats weren’t available on MaxPreps in time for this article.)