500th!, ’97 Squad Other Alums On Hand (09/17/17)

Well, it’s been 90 years in the making (including a break during World War II). The storied Clarion Area Bobcat Football program, which began way back in 1927, has now amassed 500 wins, as they join the “elite” programs around the state and country. (There are several categories among football accomplishments that are commonly the “yardsticks” if you will, among them a back running for 2,000 yards in a season, or 4,000 yards in a career; a coach winning 200 games in a career, a program with 500 career wins. Clarion Area is now represented in each of those categories.)

Current team and number of past players celebrating number 500

Our Bobcats reached the 500 win milestone on Friday night (September 15th), with a convincing 61-6 win over Keystone. The situation couldn’t have been more perfect, first home game of the season, in front of a large crowd, with many former players and coaches on hand, including the 1997 District Nine Championship Team, which was honored at halftime. Oh yes, and great weather.

The Bobcats became just the sixth team in District Nine to reach the 500 win mark and the first from the Little 7-12/KSAC.

Clarion running back Colton Rapp, led the way with 107 yards on only 6 carries (all of them in the first half), 2 catches for 26 yards, 4 touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving).

Rapp’s first touchdown came on a ten yard pass from quarterback Spencer Miller, at 4:51 in the first quarter and Archer Mills kicked his first of seven PATs, making the score 7-0. Miller had a very solid night, going 8-for-11 passing, for 99 yards and two touchdowns and he had at least two “monster hits” from his defensive back position.

1997 District Nine Championship Team members

Clarion scored another touchdown just eighteen seconds later, when Zak Bauer returned an interception to pay dirt, from ten yards out. With the successful kick the score was 14-0.

A twenty-six point second quarter, made the score 40-0 and invoked the mercy rule for the second half. Two touchdown runs by Rapp, a forty-five yarder at 11:52 and another, a 32 yard run at 9:28 made the score 27-0 Cats. The first conversion failed due problems with the snap. Mills connected on the second one. Sam Minich scored on a forty-seven yard interception return at 5:58. Again there were problems with the snap, and the conversion failed.

Keeven Weaver added a touchdown run of thirty-four yards and Mills’ kick was good with 3:19 on the clock before halftime.

The third quarter saw Miller and Rapp hook up again for a touchdown through the air, at 8:01, this time from sixteen yards out. Logan Minich would run the ball in, from twenty  yards, with 2:20 left in the quarter. Mills was successful on both PATs.

Keystone would finally get on the board, with 6:30 left in the game, when Skylar Kagle hauled in a fifty-one yard scoring pass from back-up quarterback Isaak Jones. The run for two failed.

(L-R) Tyler McMeans, Coach Larry Wiser, Lenny Bashline, Fred Cherico, Rick Grejda..

Sam Minich scored the games final touchdown on a twenty-six yard run with 4:16 left in the game,setting the final.

The offensive line did a good job. Bauer had four pancake blocks, Colt Stimmell had three and Jacob Selker had two. Bauer had seven tackles, on defense, (three-for loss), a sack. Nick Porciello had eight tackles and four sacks.

Mills and Andrew Guth both had interceptions. Mills interception was for thirty yards. Camden Boggess had four carries for thirty-nine yads and one catch for thirty yards. Twins Logan Minich and Sam Minich were pretty much identical  on offense: each had 4 carries for forty-five yards and a touchdown. Logan had three tackles and two sacks.

Keeven Weaver had one carry for thirty-four yards and four catches for thirty-seven yards. Traeson Douglas carried four times for forty-nine yards.

Nate Wingard threw for ninety-eight yards, going ten-for-twenty-one and Corey Rapp had six catches for seventy-nine yards for the Panthers.

It was a fun night for all Bobcat fans in attendance and it was nice to talk to some of the players from the ’97 team and other Bobcats from the past.

Two from the ’97 team that I talked to were John Bernardi, who has been a good friend of my family and Tyler McMeans, who after a military career, had good run on the football field, playing for Lackawanna Junior College, the University of Miami, the Chicago Bears practice squad and as a starting lineman with the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe etc. Tyler is now a policeman in Las Vegas.

I tried to get quotes from both, but for whatever reason, user error or recorder malfunction, I didn’t record them. But both seemed to be very glad to be back in Clarion for the reunion with their teammates and to be on hand for the 500th win.

The Football Boosters are planning a celebratory get together, under the tent, on the east end of the stadium, following the next home game (against Moniteau on Friday, September 29th, in honor of the 500th win. All current and former Bobcat players, coaches and support staff are invited.

(Congratulations to every person ever involved with the Orange and Black, Clarion Area Bobcat Football Program, on this momentous achievement!!!!)


Rick Grejda (’75)

Lenny Bashline (’74)

Fred Cherico (’76)

(Fred) Let me introduce a couple of guys, right here. We got Rick Grejda from the Class of ’75. We got Lenny “the famous” Bashline from the Class of ’74. And I can’t remember my name, I got hit so many times. I don’t remember my name. I think my last name’s Cherico, ’76. But no, we had a great time tonight, watching the game. The 500th win was the best ever. And we got to see the young guys from 1997 and they won districts. We were Little 12. That was the first year of districts, right there.

(Rick) Larry was a young assistant coach. (Fred) Yeah, he was a young assistant coach.  (Lenny) Fastest guy on the team. (Fred) And the old Clancy Martin told us, ‘let the backs run the whole way up to the top of the hill,” when we conditioned. ‘The linemen, always turn half way and come back down.’ That was Clancy Martin, right there. Clancy always had us go only half way up and we’d come back down. That’s why we still have our hips and our knees. That’s it.

Lewis Armstrong (’12) (about being present for the 500th win) It’s pretty crazy. I haven’t been home in quite a while and I’m glad I got to be home for the 500th win. (about it being nice seeing some of the old guys) Oh absolutely. I grew up watching these guys play, the ’97 team. My older brother, Micah Mcelhatten was here. It’s pretty crazy, seeing like Christian Fawcett. I grew up with him, running around the house, eating my mom’s spaghetti, so it’s pretty crazy.

Tight End/Defensive End Tom Wurster We had a pretty good game tonight and we executed our plays well. The defense did fantastic. That’s pretty much how the game went. It felt pretty good to be a part of the 500th win, to be part of history, the school’s history. It was kind of great that those guys (’97 team) came back and watched us play and win against Keystone. It was pretty good.

Coach Wiser It was pretty special, these guys coming back, the ’97 team. One of the things I told our kids before the game, ‘You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to be around here a long time. And one common denominator is, I always taught ‘chemistry.’ The kids liked each other. Those players from ’97 liked each other, supported each other.’ It wasn’t always roses back then. There was some adversity during the season. And they came back and beat a pretty good team (District 9 finals foe Smethport). That was one of the things I talked to them about. Hopefully the chemistry on this team, 20 years from now… All but two of them (the seniors) came back. Jason Dean passed away with health issues and the only other one was Ron Peters, the Guard, he’s out in Arizona. Guys back from South Carolina, Nevada, New York, Cleveland; it was impressive. And Justin Finotti came up all the way from Alabama. So that was nice.

The 500, you know, I’ve been here for a few of them (208 as head coach). I was lucky enough to take over a program. When I first came here, it was (late head coach) John Reish and (former head coach) Ray Austin that I worked with. There was (late former head coach and fellow Hall of Famer) Norm Zwald; there was a great tradition that had been started here years before I came. I’ve just been happy that we’ve been able to maintain it, in the years that I’ve been here. And of course, I’ve been lucky enough to have good staff with me all those years. The staff goes back… And of course, my current staff has been with me for a while.

Today’s game: we knew that they were a really good passing team and last week they ran the ball pretty well. We worked a lot on our defensive secondary coverage this week. And obviously, making sure we kept their ground game down. Our defensive did an outstanding job. I love those turnovers.

Before the game, the kids were saying, ‘I need this.’ ‘I need to get this.’ I like the personal goals. My belief always is, ‘If you can see yourself climbing the mountain, you’re generally going to be able to climb it.’ That analogy… catching a touchdown pass, making a big tackle during the game. If they can see it, then a lot of times they are going to do it.

The kickoff team continues doing a good job of keeping the coverage. Offensively, obviously we did some things very well. We got some good field position from the defense. Our line continues to do an awesome job on the run. We need to tweak a few things in our passing game. But I think we’re pretty diverse. It’s not necessarily  the ‘Three yards and a cloud of dust’ that I probably started coaching with these guys (’97 team) years ago but I’m pretty pleased.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some very good support people around, from the Booster Club. I can never say,I can never ever say enough about the Slikes (Fonzie, Vance…) their contribution to our football program over the years. Nate (Coach McClaine) has done a really nice job with the line. Scott (Coach Miller) and Lee (Coach Weber) really prepared the secondary well and the defense well for tonight.