Central Clarion and Brookville Meet Again With District 9 Class 2A Crown on the Line
Brookville certainly did not.
(Pictured above, Central Clarion’s Jase Ferguson sprints away from Brookville’s Charlie Krug during the season-opener this year/photo by Kirkland Photography)
While the Wildcats were waiting to see who they would play in the District 9 Class 2A championship game, Brookville and Karns City were locked in a wild, back-and-forth affair on Friday night with the Raiders eventually emerging with a 42-41 win.
It’s the classic case of who has the edge when the two teams meet at 7 p.m. on Friday at PennWest Clarion for the crown — the battle-tested or the idle?
“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Brookville coach Gabe Bowley. “There are benefits to having a week off, especially if you are banged up. But at the same time, there’s always something to be gained from getting into a game that really tests your will and tests your team as a whole. So, yeah, I think it was an advantage that we played on Friday night and came out with a gritty win against a tough team in Karns City.”
Central Clarion coach Dave Eggleton tried to challenge his players as much as he could during the week off.
A fast start against Brookville on Friday will alleviate many of his fears about being idle.
“Definitely concerned anytime we have a bye week or a week off about coming out a little bit rusty, not being on the field for two full weeks,” Eggleton said. “We tried to get as best a look as we can every day in practice from our young guys and our scout team guys. They did a really good job at that. That’s something I think has been such a key for us this year and in getting better every week is how well our scout team and our JV guys play against our varsity guys through the week.”
When Central Clarion (10-0) does get back on the field on Friday night, it will stress the Brookville defense with a bevy of weapons.
It all starts with quarterback Jase Ferguson, who is putting up a special season.
Ferguson has completed 117-of-174 passes (67.2%) for 2,225 yards and 38 touchdowns. He’s thrown just three interceptions.
He also leads the Wildcats in rushing with 728 yards on 88 carries with nine TDs.
Senior Dawson Smail leads the wideouts with 35 receptions for 745 yards and 13 touchdowns. Mason Burford is right behind him with 596 yards on 30 catches. He’s also hauled in 13 touchdowns.
When asked what is the one thing his team would have to do to get a win over Central Clarion, Bowley paused and chuckled.
“That’s a tough question against a team like that,” Bowley said. “We have to do a lot of things well. We’re gonna have to hit some big plays and we’re gonna have to minimize their big plays. We’re gonna have to win the turnover battle. I mean, we’re gonna have to play a complete football game to come out on top of this.”
Brookville has certainly been playing well since an 0-2 start, winning nine in a row.
Like Central Clarion, the Raiders have a wealth of weapons.
Senior quarterback Charlie Krug has completed 124-of-217 passes (57.1%) for 1,980 yards and 27 touchdowns.
He has found a big-play guy in senior Jack Pete, who came out for football this season for the first time since he was in junior high.
Pete has 44 receptions for 883 yards and 13 TDs. Sophomore Hayden Freeman has also emerged as a top target with 31 catches for 573 yards and Sam Krug has caught 28 passes for 596 yards and eight scores.
Throw in junior East Belfiore and his 23 receptions for 228 yards and Central Clarion’s secondary will be tested.
“When we played them the first time in Week 1, we obviously knew that Jack Pete was a good athlete and a really good basketball player,” Eggleton said. “We didn’t expect him to be such a physical football player. He’s fast and athletic and once he catches the ball, he’s tough to bring down and that’s something we saw in that first game.”
Both coaches admit not much can be garnered from that first meeting. Both teams have evolved since that game in late August, won by Central Clarion, 49-27.
“Playing them once is better than never seeing them before, even if it was in August,” Bowley said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to play them again, that’s for sure.”
So is Charlie Krug, who missed most of last season with a knee injury and missed a game at midseason.
Krug and the seniors want to get over that hump and win a district title after losing it twice during their careers, including last season to Central Clarion.
“He really commands the offense and really gives them a sense of calm and understanding of what’s going on,” Bowley said. “The whole senior class is like that. I mean, these guys will be playing in our third district championship game. This is their third shot so they’re hungry. Being a bridesmaid so many times starts to get under your skin a little bit.”
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