Bobcats Win District Nine Class A Football Title (11/24/13)

The Bobcat Football Team claimed the District Nine Class A Football Championship, on Saturday afternoon, at E. J. Mansell Stadium, in Dubois, with a dominating 55-0 victory over Redbank Valley. A good portion of the game was played in a snow storm, but it didn’t seem to affect the Cats’ play at all.

(Photo by Bri Nellis – Bobcats – 2013 District Nine Class A Champions

(Photo by Bri Nellis –
Bobcats – 2013 District Nine Class A Champions

The Bobcats were led by Damien Slike, who had 234 yards and 4 touchdowns on 16 carries. Slike now has the Clarion single season rushing yardage record, currently at 1836, as he passed Kyle Cathcart’s record of 1822 yards, which he set in 2001. Damien also went over the 3000 career rushing yards mark. His total now stands at 3032. He also had a reception for 17 yards in the game.

The game also saw Cody Hearst become the first Bobcat to pass the single season 1000 yard receiving mark, hauling in 4 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. Hearst’s mark now stands at 1038. Also Ian Corbett who had ran for 111 yards and a touchdown, on 8 carries, went over the 1000 yard mark, for the season. Corbett now has 1093 yards. This marks the first time in school history that the Bobcats have had more than one player rush for a thousand yards, in the same season.

Corbett’s most electrifying play of the day, though, came on the opening kickoff. Redbank’s Zane Watson had a booming kick, that Corbett gathered in just inches outside the end zone.  He started upfield and cut toward the right sideline. He evaded a diving Bulldog defender at around the Clarion 20, and turned on the jets, outrunning everyone for a 99 yard touchdown, the first of four the Cats would score in the first quarter. The PAT failed and the Cats led 6-0, just seconds into the game.

On the Bobcats’ next possession, Slike, from the Clarion 43, took a handoff up the middle, cut to the right and was knocked out of bounds at the “cone,” a fifty-six yard gain and a first and goal at the one. Then following some great blocking, he ran it through the heart of the Bulldog defense for the score. He then took a pitch from Quarterback, John Katis in for the two point conversion and the Cats led 14-0, at 8:14.

Slike’s next two touchdowns came on a 24 yard run at 4:47 and a 46 yard run at 1:06. Antonio Troese kicked the PAT after both TDs and the Cats led 28-0 after one.

The only score of the second quarter came after the Bobcats had a great goal line stand and took over on downs at the 1 yard line. On the ensuing possession, from the Clarion 38, Ian Corbett took a handoff around right end, untouched, for a 62 yard touchdown. The kick was good, and the Cats took a 35-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Mercy Rule was in effect for the entire second half, something that has happened in each of the 13-0, Bobcats victories this season.

The Bobcats’ next two scores were set up by interceptions. Thomas Plummer had the first one at the Redbank 34 and returned it to the 21. Then Slike took the ball, followed a major push by the line, broke a tackle and took it in for the score, at 9:22 of the third.

Then on the first play after the kickoff, Brendan Miller intercepted a pass at the Redbank 39 and returned it to the 23. On the Cats’ first play, Katis hit Hearst, in stride at the back of the end zone. Both of Troese’ kicks were good and the Cats led 49-0 at 8:17 of the third quarter.

Sophomore reserve, Caleb Bailey scored the Cats’ final touchdown with a 1 yard run, with 2:21 left in the game. Bailey also had a nice 15 yard run on the drive. The Bobcats took a knee on the conversion and the final was set at 55-0.

In addition to the stats listed above, Offensively: John Katis completed 4 of 7 passes for 84 yards. Antonio Troese converted 6 of 7 PATs.

Defensively: Destin Strauser had 12 tackles, Tyler Allen had 8. Ethan Straffin, Plummer, Slike, Miller and Nathan McNamara each had six. Miller had a fumble recovery. The Cats’ had numerous tackles for loss or for no gain, throughout the game.

Redbank’s Mark Strothers had 99 yards on 23 carries.

This was the Bobcats’ ninth shutout of the season, tying the 1992 Smethport squad, for the most in D-9. Smethport made it to the State Championship Game that season. The Cats’ 55 points and the point spread are most ever in a D-9 Title Game, in any classification.

Some members of the team shared their thoughts after the game:
John Katis: “It feels really good. Honestly, the greatest feeling in the entire world. This is what we worked for it all season long. Whenever it struck zero, zero, zero on the board, last year at Bradford versus Port Allegany, this is what we knew. This was our team goal, but we still have lots more to accomplish this season.”

Cody Hearst: “I thought we all did really, really well. It’s so great to finally win the D-9 Championship. I was at it the last two years, but we weren’t as fortunate. But we came out and beat Redbank, two games one-hundred and five points to zero. So that was nice.”

Lineman, Damien Cherico: “This was a great HOG win. We’ve been pushing. We always have to figure out what the defense is, ‘cause everyone always comes at us with some changed defense, even though we study something. So we come out. We figure out what it is, talk to Coach Smith to figure it out and execute. That’s all it was – execution.”  It’s just unbelievable to think that you can Mercy Rule every team you’ve played the whole year. It’s just amazing to be what, 13-0; it’s unbelievable.”

Coach Wiser: “It feels great. Obviously we’ve been to this dance a number of times and it’s nice to come back with the crown. But in the same instance, I’m excited moving on to next week too. And I’m anxious to go back and get ready for Lakeview next week.

“The kickoff return was huge at the beginning of the game right there and I think the kick may have hit the wind a little hard. Being the Defensive Coordinator I’m so happy with the goal line stand. That’s a couple of those we’ve done this year and again it’s this team, twice now.  I’m pretty pleased.

“The offense keeps rolling along like a machine, and so forth like that. And Todd (Smith, Offensive Coordinator) keeps getting the ball to a lot of people. But I want to compliment my staff. They’ve done a great job getting guys ready, Nathan (McClaine) and Lee (Weber) and Todd and Scooter (Miller). And Camron Kirkland has been a great help to us this year also. Let’s keep it rolling. OK. That’s my theme. Keep ‘er rolling.

About Mercy Ruling their way through District Nine, Coach Wiser said, “Those things are nice, but the win is the most important to me. But I like the fact that our kids have worked so hard, week in and week out, to prepare for the next opponent and do the kind of things we’ve been doing. That’s been kind of a central theme. They don’t look ahead; they don’t look back. It’s not the team that’s, on Monday, still looking back at last week’s game. This group will be ready to move on and start looking at Lakeview tapes. That tells you something. Those things hopefully in January and February, it’ll be kind of nice looking back at all the things they accomplished. But this is the next step.”

Destin Strauser: “It felt pretty nice. I mean it feels different from winning one compared to last year. Our defensive line did a heck of a job. And we could finally get moving out there and we came firing from the beginning. So it was just on from there.

“We looked pretty good out there. A big shout out to all our Seniors. I mean we’re going to miss them next year but let’s just keep it rolling, I guess. But thanks to all the fans too, to come out and support us.”

Damien Slike: “It felt amazing finally winning a championship after two runner ups. The line did another amazing job tonight and opened up some holes for me and Ian. And we just kept it going after we got it rolling.”

On next week’s game with Lakeview, Damien said, “I’m really excited to play someone we haven’t played yet. They have a big line, I’ve heard and their back’s pretty fast. But I think we can shut them down.”

Ethan Straffin: “Well obviously it feels great. All our work’s paid off, but we’ve still got a lot to go. And now it’s just focusing on next week, getting everyone healthy and ready.”

Tanner Corbett: As one of the unsung heroes, “Not a lot of pressure is on you and it’s kind of nice. We just have a bunch of role players, everyone doing their job.”

The Bobcats’ State Playoff Quarter-Final Game, against Lakeview, will be Saturday at 1:00PM, at Slippery Rock University.