Central Clarion Wildcats 2020 Season Preview (Posted on 09/03/20)

The Central Clarion Wildcat Football Team are about to begin their historic first season and Coach Larry Wiser is pretty excited about the outlook for the squad.

Wildcats Seniors

The Wildcats are a new entity. Last season Clarion-Limestone joined Clarion Area and North Clarion in the co-op that they had for a number of years. That would be the last time the team would compete as the Clarion Area Bobcats, ending an over ninety year gridiron tradition.

The Bobcats went 10-2 in 2019 and were the District Nine Class AA Runners-up.

Coach Wiser mentioned several key players who graduated this season: Austin Newcomb, Mitch Knepp, Ben Smith who were All-Conference, while stating, “Obviously, the other seniors contributed in a major way also, as far as the success last year.”

Though the team lost some big talent to graduation, they have a bevy of experience returning.

Coach Wiser listed some of the key offensive players. “We return Calvin German at quarterback (98 completions in 176 attempts, 2349 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions). He had a great season, last year. We return one of the top receivers in the state in Ethan Burford (39 catches, 1179 yards, 17 touchdowns).

“Cutter Boggess (91 carries, 624 yards, 4 touchdowns), worked anywhere from fullback – to Z-back – to tailback; we expect to see him at tailback. Along with Breckin Rex (312 yards, 3 touchdowns), Cutter did some real good running for us last year. Hunter Craddock (10 receptions, 233 yards, 6 touchdowns) returns at tight end. Kyle Bottaro who was our starting fullback, when he got hurt also returns.

“Jason Ganoe and Cooper Shall will come in at wide receiver. And we’ve still got kids we’ll be looking at during the scrimmage and so forth.

“Beau Verdill (33.4 yard punting average, 56 PATs, and a 31 yard field goal) returns and will do all the kicking duties. He had a pretty outstanding season, last year and we hope he’ll build off of that success.”

The Wildcats have a number of experienced offensive linemen returning. “Luca Cherico, who started as a freshman, but missed most of last season, returns. We’ve moved him out to tackle. Jordan McCord-Wolbert is back on the offensive line, at center.

“We have Patrick Gulnac at the one tackle position. Logan Lerch, whose dad played for me, is out for the first time as a senior. He’ll be at one guard position. We moved Cole Wrhen from the tight end position to the other guard position. We expect to see Colton Bradley in there quite a bit, at one of the offensive line positions.”

The Wildcats have a lot of talent returning on defense as well.

Coach Wiser said, “Kaoz Baker (66 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, including a sack) returns at nose guard. Hunter Craddock (70 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, including 8 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 fumble caused), I think, one of the better defensive ends in the league, if not the state is returning at the quick side. We get Cole Wrhen back, who suffered an early season injury. He was able to come back in like the last game of the year, like Bottaro.

“At linebacker, Bottaro (41 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, including a sack) will be the Mike linebacker and Cutter Boggess (99 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 fumble caused) will return at Sam linebacker. Boggess was one of the leading tacklers in the league last year and we expect big things from him.

“Will backer right now, Rex is competing there and Jordan McCord-Wolbert is also looking at playing the defensive line, as is Luca Cherico.

“In the secondary, we return Ethan Burford (38 tackles, 8 passes defended, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 fumble caused) at free safety; he’ll move out at corner also and Jason Ganoe, who’ll also be doing time as receiver, who will be one outstanding corner. He’s really had a great preseason so far. Another guy we really like is Cooper Shall. Christian Simko played an awful lot on offense and we’re looking at him defensively, along with Calvin German.”

As for those guiding the team, Coach Wiser said, “The coaching staff  hasn’t changed from last year. Everybody’s back. Dave Louder and I will be co-defensive coordinators. Everybody’s kind of got a co-worker with them this year. You just never know with Covid-19. Dave Eggleton and Camron Kirkland will work together with Dave as offensive coordinator and Cam as assistant coordinator.

“Lee Weber comes back as the special teams coordinator. We’ll all have to help with some of his duties. That’s something we will all have to work at. And Doug Knepp continues on the great tradition I’ve had with really good line coaches with Alex Arth and Nate McClaine. Doug returns at that position from last year. He’s got a young line. We’re kind of anxious to see what we do in the scrimmage this week with Redbank Valley.” And as always, Kevin “Fonzie” Slike is the equipment manager.

Looking toward the season. “This year’s going to be kind of interesting. Possibly playing each team twice (during the regular season, with the exception of Karns City), depending on if we have district playoffs. Our success has always been what kind of chemistry will we have as a team.

“You make each week, each game the most important. You’re positive with your teammates, there’s good chemistry. You need to play for your teammates; there’s eleven guys playing at one time, not taking plays off. Those are all ingredients that go in to it, along with the mental part of the game, in having a successful football season. They are the things you can’t really find out until you get into some adversity to a certain extent. At the scrimmage, we’ll obviously find some things we need to improve on.

“You begin to find out how some of the people are going to respond. Nobody likes to be told that they need to do something a little bit better. That’s always a key ingredient to having a great season. If the kids are going to be coachable, they’ll want to make improvements. They’ll want to be better for themselves and their teammates.”

The Wildcats will open the season with Punxsutawney. Coach Wiser said, “We haven’t been able to see anything on them and this will be the first year we will play DuBois. We’ve played them in Junior Varsity. I’m glad that as of last Friday, we found out who we are playing in our first game. And we’re pointing toward Punxy. We’re not thinking about anybody else at this point.”

(Let’s Go Wildcats!!!!)

Below is the Wildcats’ Schedule and Roster:

Central Clarion Wildcats logo designed by Karl Jacobson

Saturday, September 5th- Redbank Valley – Away – 10:00 AM (Scrimmage)

Friday, September 11th – Punxsutawney – Home (Clarion-Limestone Stadium) – 7:00PM

Friday, September 18th – Brookville – Home (Clarion-Limestone Stadium) – 7:00PM (Clarion-Limestone Homecoming)

Friday, September 25th – Moniteau – Away – 7:00PM

Friday, October 2nd – DuBois – Home (Clarion University Memorial Stadium) – 7:00PM (Clarion Area Homecoming)

Friday, October 9th – Karns City – Away – 7:0PM

Friday, October 16th – Punxsutawney – Away – 7:00PM

Friday, October 23rd – Brookville – Away – 7:00PM

Friday, October 30th – Moniteau – Home (Clarion University Memorial Stadium) – 7:00PM (Game may be canceled due to potential District Nine Playoffs)

Friday, November 6th – DuBois – Away – 7:00PM (Game may be canceled due to potential PIAA First Round Playoff Game)

Central Clarion WildcatsVarsity Football Roster
NameJersey #WeightHeight
Kopnitsky, Connor11465′ 11″
Hummell, Ryan21445′ 11″
Sliker, Tristan31506′ 0″
Smith, Tommy41606′ 1″
Simko, Christian51626′ 2″
Ganoe, Jason71305′ 9″
German, Calvin81516′ 0″
Unverzagt, Owen91456′ 0″
Divins, Logan101716′ 3″
Bottaro, Kyle111755′ 10″
Verdill, Beau141836′ 3″
Burford, Ethan171355′ 9″
Rex, Breckin201525′ 10″
Boggess, Cutter211856′ 1″
Shall, Cooper221325′ 7″
Smail, Dawson241706′ 0″
Yeany, Damon261355′ 8″
Naser, Noah271755′ 8″
Smith, Keidon281495′ 10″
Rex, Ashton301455′ 9″
Haines, Hayden351555′ 9″
Burke, John361726′ 4″
Ganoe, Gavin421505′ 10″
Craddock, Hunter441906′ 2″
McCord-Wolbert, Jordan511845′ 11″
Cherico, Luca522056′ 0″
Clark, Cameron542005′ 10″
Keihl, Kaleb561976′ 0″
Beish, Brandon581845′ 9″
Lerch, Logan602185′ 11″
Songer, Mason622566′ 3″
Bradley, Kolten641775′ 10″
Baker, Kaoz672426′ 0″
Finefrock, Trevor721605′ 11″
Gulnac, Patrick753306′ 4″
Klugh, Tyler771505′ 10″
Hotchkiss, Dawson801455′ 10″
Sottile, Domonic821295′ 7″
Slike, Anthony831426′ 6″
Clark, Will841495′ 10″
Hagan, Ian851926′ 4″
Wrhen, Cole661805′ 10″
Head CoachLarry Wiser
Assistant Head CoachDave Eggleton
Assistant CoachDave Louder
Assistant CoachLee Weber
Assistant CoachDoug Knepp
Assistant CoachCam Kirkland
Equipment ManagerKevin “Fonz” Slike