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Winning All Week: Central Clarion Not Just Getting Victories on Friday Nights as They Prepare to Host Dangerous Karns City

Friday, September 30, 2022 @ 12:09 AM

Posted by Mike Kilroy

IMG_5346CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — One of the reasons why the Central Clarion football team is undefeated this season on Fridays is because the Wildcats are also winning on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

(Photo courtesy of the Central Clarion Wildcats Football Boosters)

Practices have been crisp. Work is getting done. Players are confident heading into a home clash with resurgent and dangerous Karns City.

“This is a great group of kids who really want to succeed,” said Central Clarion coach Dave Eggleton. “It’s easy to want to win on Friday night. It’s hard to want to win on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. That’s the difference. What happens on Friday nights is a direct result of the work you put in all week.”

Central Clarion (5-0) has been winning in a variety of ways.

Central Clarion football coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.

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Early in the season, it was the passing game and a defense that was forcing turnovers at a prodigious rate.

Lately, the running game has shined.

“Our o-line has really been playing well the last few weeks,” Eggleton said. “And we have a good stable of backs with Connor Kopnitsky leading that charge. When he runs the way he has been running, it really does make teams have to worry about our run game, rather than just dropping out into coverage and worrying about the pass.”

There’s a lot to worry about there, too.

Jase Ferguson has already thrown for 1,170 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He has a lethal group of lightning-fast receivers, led by Ashton Rex, who has hauled in 24 passes for 685 yards and five touchdowns already.

Throw in Kopnitsky and his 297 rushing yards on just 36 carries — all but 11 of those yards coming in the last three weeks — and the Wildcats’ offense is a handful.

It’s quite a challenge for Karns City and head coach Joe Sherwin.

“The key thing is making sure everybody’s doing the job that they’re supposed to be doing,” Sherwin said. “That’s the big thing for us this week.”

Karns City got a big boost last week with the return to full strength of senior quarterback Eric Booher, who had played the previous two games with a cast on his throwing arm that prevented him from attempting a single pass.

Against Moniteau, he threw three touchdown passes and had zip and accuracy.

It opens up a lot of things for the Gremlins, who had won two games by running the ball a combined 110 times to one pass attempt.

“I really wasn’t surprised,” Sherwin said of Booher’s performance against the Warriors. “He was just itching to go. I’m just glad and happy for him that he’s healthy now and able to do those types of things.”

Karns City, though, still prefers to run the ball with its own deep stable of backs. Each brings a different set of skills.

Cooper Coyle has been the speedster to the outside. Nathan Hess–the banger between the tackles. And, Levi Hawk has been a sort of combination of the two for the Gremlins.

The trio has rushed for 607 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Booher is also a threat to run.

“They are looking more and more like Karns City,” Eggleton said. “They’re gonna run the ball and run the ball and run the ball. Then you start creeping up to stop it and they’ll hit a play over the top of you. That’s the recipe of success they’ve had since I can remember, since back when I played. It’s amazing how successful a program they’ve been. You have to take your game to the next level when you play them.”

Eggleton said his defense will need to be more disciplined than ever against a team like Karns City.

He’s also concerned with Booher’s ability to fake and take off on bootlegs.

“We saw on film such a nice fake against St. Marys that the official blew the whistle while Booher was running into the end zone untouched for a touchdown,” Eggleton said. “He even faked out the official. You can’t go on what you think you know.”

After an 0-2 start, Karns City has won three straight. The offensive line has gelled during that winning streak.

Central Clarion has been rolling all season with lopsided wins in every game except a 29-24 victory over Port Allegany in Week 2.

The Wildcats’ other wins have come by scores of 42-7, 43-6, 45-7, and 48-7.

Some other games to keep an eye on Friday night:

RIDGWAY (0-5) at KEYSTONE (4-1)

Ridgway gave Redbank Valley everything the Bulldogs could handle last week, jumping out to a 13-0 lead, but ultimately falling in a shootout, 42-33.

Cam Larkin had a big game, completing 14 of 24 for 178 yards and a touchdown. The junior also rushed seven times for 59 yards and two scores.

Keystone bounced back from its loss to Redbank Valley with a 41-14 win over Smethport.

The Panthers led 14-0 early then pulled away late.

Junior quarterback Rayce Weaver suffered an elbow injury in that win. Sophomore Drew Keth filled in admirably, going 2 of 7 for 92 yards and a touchdown.

The tandem of Kyle Nellis and Tyler Albright shined again for Keystone. Nellis rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns and Albright added 112 yards on the ground and 84 yards receiving with two touchdowns, including a 61-yard hookup with Keth.

BRADFORD (0-5) at MONITEAU (1-4)

Moniteau welcomes Bradford to town coming off a 35-6 loss to Karns City.

The Warriors had their chances in that game after recovering two fumbles on kickoffs early but only managed six points off of those turnovers.

That allowed Karns City to stay in its game plan, surge ahead and cruise to the victory.

Bradford is looking to snap its 23-game losing streak.

The last time the Owls won was on Oct. 4, 2019, when they beat Punxsutawney, 59-34.

Central Clarion football coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Redbank Chevrolet and DuBrook.
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