Clarion Football Begins ‘New Era’ At Lock Haven Thursday Night

Weibel ChrisCLARION, Pa. (EYT) –The 2015 Clarion University football season is ready to get underway on Thursday, September 3 when the Golden Eagles travel to Lock Haven for the season opening tilt.

Chris Weibel, only the 12th head coach in Clarion history dating back to 1926, begins his first season leading the Golden Eagles. Kickoff at Hubert Jack Stadium is set for 6:07pm.

All the game action between Clarion and Lock Haven can be heard on the Golden Eagle radio network, which includes WCCR-FM, 92.7 in Clarion and WKQW-FM, 96.3 in Oil City, as well as on the internet at Redzonemedia.com with Mike Kalinowski providing the play by play and Joe Lodanosky offering color commentary.

The game will also be aired live on FOX56 (Wolf TV) and WQMY (My Tv) which serves 17 counties in Central and Northeast, Pennsylvania.

“We’re looking forward to the opening kickoff of 2015,” said Weibel who ushers in a “new era” of Clarion football. “Its an exciting time and we can’t wait to get started.” A 2010 Clarion Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Weibel spent the last 11 seasons as an assistant coach, and the last two as offensive coordinator.

The Golden Eagles were 2-9 overall and 2-7 in the PSAC-West a year ago under former head coach Jay Foster. Since being named head coach on February 6, 2015, Weibel has focused the Golden Eagle players, staff and alumni on “changing the culture” at Clarion – and working to restoring its proud football tradition.

“Our goal is to ‘Restore the Pride’ of Golden Eagle football and that is what our focus has been on every day since I was named head coach on February 6, 2015,” said Weibel. “Our players know that we expect our team to be the best conditioned on the field, to outwork everyone every day and to bring a positive attitude to the field daily. We expect to restore Clarion football to its winning ways starting in 2015.”

The Golden Eagles opened 2014 with a close 27-13 loss at Saint Francis, then won two road games at Millersville (55-16) and Cheyney (27-6). Clarion lost its next seven contests to finish 2-9 on the season, including a 41-35 overtime loss to Kutztown in the season finale.

CLARION OPENS 2015 WITH TWO THURSDAY NIGHT GAMES

In 2015 the Golden Eagles open the season at Lock Haven on Thursday, September 3 for a 6pm tilt, then return to Memorial Stadium to kickoff the home season on Thursday, September 10 for a 6pm game against Millersville. The game against the Marauders will be produced by Sportsfever TV.

Home games are set this year with Cheyney on Saturday Sept. 19 (1pm), Oct. 3 versus Mercyhurst (Homecoming – 2pm), Oct. 17 against Seton Hill (3pm) and October 31 versus IUP (12:00 pm). The away opponents include Gannon (S-26), Edinboro (Oct. 10), California (Oct. 24), Slippery Rock (Nov. 7) and Kutztown (Nov. 14).

LOCK HAVEN FEATURES NEW HEAD COACH DAVE TAYNOR

Lock Haven’s football program welcomes new head football coach Dave Taynor to town. He is the school’s 24th head coach and comes to the Bald Eagles from Urbana University, where Taynor posted a 3-8 record a year ago, but his 2013 team was a school best 7-4 overall and placed second in the MEC. He was the head coach at Urbana for 7 seasons.

Lock Haven is coming off a 2-9 overall record and a 2-7 mark in the PSAC-East in 2014. Lock Haven defeated Millersville (17-10) and Cheyney (28-0) for its two victories, while losing very close games to IUP (21-16) and West Virginia State (19-14).

CLARION LEADS LOCK HAVEN 46-16-1 IN SERIES DATING BACK TO 1928

Clarion leads the overall series between the two schools by a 46-16-1 margin, dating back to 1928, where Clarion won the initial meeting 13-0. Clarion won the last meeting between the two schools in 2013 when the Eagles posted a 30-13 win at Memorial Stadium. Clarion also won the 2012 game at Lock Haven by a 30-28 score, with the winning points coming on a Ben Fiscus 3-yard td pass to Anthony Becoate as time expired.

Clarion also won 54-6 at Memorial Stadium in 2011, 49-6 at Lock Haven in 2010, 24-0 in 2009 and in 2008 won by a 24-21 margin at Lock Haven. LH won the meeting in 2007 by a 17-14 score in overtime at Clarion and the 2006 contest 14-7 at Hubert Jack Stadium. Clarion won 16-0 at Memorial Stadium in 2005 and the Bald Eagles won in 2004 in an exciting 16-13 overtime decision. Clarion won the 2003 game 22-9 margin. Clarion has a 13-5 record in the last 18 games. Other Clarion wins came in 2002 (34-31), 2001 (13-0), 2000 (42-20), 1999 (44-41 overtime), 1996 (57-3) and 1995 (49-32). Lock Haven wins came in 2006 (14-7), 2004 (16-13 ot), 1998 (35-28) and 1997 (33-32).

CLARION OFFENSE AVERAGED 278.8 YARDS & 20.1 PPG IN 2014

The Clarion offense returns 7 starters on a unit that averaged 20.1 ppg and 278.8 yards of total offense per game. Clarion averaged 89.4 rushing yards and 189.5 passing yards per game.

SIMMONS RETURNS AT QUARTERBACK

Connor Simmons (Jr. New Palestine, In.), who started 8 games for the Golden Eagles in 2014, returns to lead the offense. In his first season directing the offense in 2014 he completed 129 of 261 passes for 1,808 yards and 13 td’s. He also rushed for 57 yards and 5 td’s. His top game was the season finale when he passed for 337 yards and 4 td’s against Kutztown.

Also ready to call the signals is Darelle Carson (Jr. Pgh-Perry) who has two years of experience as a starting quarterback. Last season he completed 25 of 73 passes for 276 yards and 1 td, while running for 118 yards. Carson completed 85 of 195 passes for 1,170 yards and 5 td’s in 2013, while also running the pigskin 157 times for 564 yards and 6 td’s.

LEHMAN, DEITRICK, NICHOLAS, MOORER & FRYE LEAD RECEIVERS

Returning to catch passes for the Eagles will be senior wideouts Matt Lehman (Jr. Lower Burrell/Burrell), Mark Nicholas (Jr. Export/Franklin Regional) and Jaron Moorer (Sr. Rochester, N.Y.), along with Eric Frye (Jr. – Pgh – Perry) and tight end Zach Deitrick (Jr. Upper St. Clair).

Lehman, a two-year starting receiver, is coming off a quality 2014 season where he grabbed 25 passes for 540 yards and 2 td’s. He had 3 catches for 101 yards and 1 td vs Cal. In 2013 latched onto 13 passes for 159 yards and 1 td and now totals 38 career catches for 699 yards and 3 td’s.

Nicholas, a 3-year starter, collected 12 passes for 100 yards and 3 td’s in 2014 and grabbed 15 passes for 285 yards and 3 td’s in 2013. He has 34 career catches for 479 yards and 8 td’s. Moorer came on in 2014 to clutch 11 passes for 328 yards and 2 td’s, including a 76-yarder against IUP. He had a game high 4 grabs for 109 yards and 2 td’s against Kutztown. Frye meanwhile returns after missing the final 8 games with an injury. Last year he collected 10 catches for 135 yards and 1 td, and had 6 receptions for 154 yards and 2 td’s in 2013.

Deitrick, a significant contributor in 2014, caught 14 passes for 273 yards and 4 td’s. He had a game high 3 grabs for 92 yards and 2 td’s versus Edinboro.

WILLIAMS RETURNS TO KEY RUNNING BACKS IN 2015

Sophomore running back Delrece Williams (Homestead/Steel Valley) returns to lead a strong backfield for the Golden Eagles. Williams toted the pigskin 82 times for 370 yards and 6 td’s, plus caught 6 passes for 8 yards, and returned 26 kickoffs for 658 yards in his first season. He had a game high 92 rushing yards and 2 td’s versus Millersville. Weibel believes he is ready for a breakout year. A senior at Steel Valley High in the Fall of 2010, Williams set the WPIAL regular season rushing record of 2,149 yards in 9 games. He had a season total of 2,388 yards and a WPIAL leading 34 td’s.

Also set to tote the pigskin is freshman transfer KaDarrius Campbell (Leonardtown, Md.). Campbell attended Saint Francis before coming to Clarion. Campbell participated in Spring practice and was explosive in the backfield. A number of additional running backs will be vying for time.

CRESS BROTHERS LEAD OFFENSIVE LINE

The “O” line will be paced by brothers Cameron Cress (Sr. Mars) at center and Shane Cress (Sr. Mars) at left tackle. Cameron has started for two years at center and makes all the line calls up front, while Shane, a three-year letterwinner and returning starter at left tackle, anchors the line. Also back to lead the way up front are Josh Wiskeman (So. Leechburg/Kiski) and Jake Heigel (So. Dubois/Brockway) at right tackle, Rodolfo Ceniceros (So. Pgh – North Allegheny), Zack Morris (Fr. Pgh – Upper St. Clair) and Shane McKillop (So. Freeport) at the guard spots.

9 STARTERS RETURN ON IMPROVED EAGLE DEFENSE

Clarion’s defense made strong improvements in 2014 and the Eagles look to continue that trend with 9 starters and 21 lettermen returning in 2015. Clarion yielded only 381.2 yards per game including 161.3 rushing and 219.9 passing. Clarion ranked 6th in the entire PSAC in total defense and 6th vs the pass.

BELL, SHORT & FRAGALE LEAD DEFENSIVE FRONT

The Golden Eagles have a strong defensive line returning in 2015, paced by talented returning starters Kwame Bell (Sr. Philadelphia), Brandon Short (Sr. New Brighton) and Andrew Fragale (Sr. Emporium/Cameron County).

Bell, who developed into a dominant lineman a year ago at defensive end, collected 55 tackles, 9 qb sacks for -57 and 14 tfl’s for -78 yards. He also caused 3 fumbles and recovered 2 fumbles. He had a game high 9 hits, 3 tfl’s and 2 sacks vs Edinboro. Short a three-year letterwinner, posted big numbers at end in 2014. In 8 games he notched 45 hits, 8 sacks for -53 yards, 16 tfl’s for -75 yards, 1 fumble caused, 1 blocked kick and 1 fumble recovery. He was the PSAC-West defensive P.O.W. vs Seton Hill with 11 stops, 6 tfl’s and 2 sacks. Fragale, a three-year starter at noseguard, posted 34 tackles, 5 tfl’s, 1 sack, 2 fumbles caused and 1 recovered in 11 games. In 30 career games he has 93 jolts, 27 tfl’s (-71), 10 sacks (-45), 5 fumbles caused, 3 recovered and 1 break-up.

Also ready to have big years up front are 2014 part-time starter Matt Koerper (Jr. Seven Fields/Seneca Valley) at tackle, Jake Tumminello (So. Mars) and Avery Howsare (So. Altoona) at ends and Lucas Nickerson (Sr. Mayville, N.Y.) on the line. Koerper had a strong 2014 with 30 stops, 1 sack and 5 tfl’s, and is moving from end to tackle. Tumminello played 7 games and posted 9 stops, 1 sack and 2 tfl’s, while Howsare notched 3 hits playing linebacker and on special teams. Nickerson gained valuable playing time and lettered last year.

YAUGER & DAVIS RETURN AS EAGLE LINEBACKERS

The Clarion linebacking corps will be led by the return of veterans seniors Rocco Yauger (Sr. Penn Trafford) and Jared Davis (Sr. Pgh-Allderdice).

Yauger, a 3-year starter, was second on the team last year with 75 tackles to go with 2 tfl’s. He had 57 stops with 1 tfl and 1 int in 2013, and collected 64 hits, 8 tfl’s and 1 sack as a freshman in 2012. He has career numbers showing 196 tackles, 11 tfl’s, 1 sack and 1 int.

Davis, meanwhile has gained starting experience in each of the last two years. He had a career high 36 tackles, 4 tfl’s, 1 fumble r34ecovery and 1 break-up in 2014. He had 29 hits, 2 tfl’s and 1 fumble recovery in 2013 and now has 79 career stops and 8 tfl’s with 2 fumble recoveries and a break-up.

Also expecting to see time on the inside will be senior Eddie Kurtz (Pgh – Avonworth), Michael Collier (Jr. Beaver Falls) and Pitt transfer Jacob Craig (Jr. Berlin Brothers Valley). Kurtz has earned two letters at linebacker and on special teams getting 7 tackles in 11 games last year, and has played in 21 career games with 11 stops and 1 tfl. Collier missed the 2014 season with injury but had a stellar 2013 collecting 36 tackles, 4 tfl’s, an interception and a break-up. Coach Weibel is high on Craig, who played in 2 games at Pitt last year (1 tackle).

FOUR VETERANS RETURN AT CORNER

Myles Edmonds (So. Odenton, Md.), Tyler Tucker (Sr. Westside, Tx.). Adam Lynch (Jr. Pgh – Brashear) and Kwaku Asamoah (Sr. Indiana) have all started in the secondary and will lead the 2015 Golden Eagles at corner. Edmonds came on last year to earn a starting role and notched 38 tackles, 2 tfl’s and 1 break-up. Tucker, who has earned 3 letters, has moved from safety to corner. He was slowed with injury last year and collected 6 stops in 8 games. As a freshman in 2012 he had 31 hits, 7 tfl’s and 2 break-ups at corner, with 24 stops and 2 tfl’s in 2013. Lynch, also a starter in his career, posted 35 hits and 5 break-ups last year. The 2-time letterwinner has 64 career stops, 3 int’s and 8 pass break-ups. Asamoah, who has earned 3 letters, played in 9 games in 2014 with 9 stops and 2 break-ups. He has 40 career tackles and 4 break-ups.

McNAMARA, & LIBERTO ANCHOR AT SAFETY

Maybe the strongest part of the Golden Eagle defense is at the safety position where three-year starters Cory McNamara (Sr. Ontario, N.Y.) and Chris Liberto (Sr. Springdale) await the enemy.

Cory McNamara moved to strong safety from corner in 2014 and ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 64, plus had 3 interceptions, 2 break-ups, 2 tfl’s, 1 fumble caused and recovered and blocked a kick. In 2013 he led the Golden Eagles with 87 tackles and 12 pass break-ups (Ranked #2 in the PSAC. Adding 1 interception and 1 tfl. He had a game high 14 tackles vs Gannon. In three seasons Cory has 182 tackles, 14 break-ups, 5 int’s, 4 tfl’s, 1 fumble caused and recovered.

Liberto had a strong season at safety in 2014, also after converting from running back. Chris notched 55 hits, 6 tfl’s and 1 fumble recovery last year and is expecting an even better 2015.

Also seeing plenty of time at the safety spots will be Connor Scott (Jr. Pgh – Upper St. Clair), Colton McKay (So. Moon) and Trevon Gaines (So. Pgh – Brashear). Scott collected 27 tackles and an interception last year, including a 15-yard int return for a td at Millersville. McKay notched 25 hits in 2014, while Gaines played in 6 games and gained experience while collecting 4 stops.

ESPOSITO, AYERS & WHITE BACK ON SPECIAL TEAMS

The Clarion special teams will be anchored by junior placekicker Phil Esposito (Jr. Brockway), special teams snapper Eric White (Sr. Clearfield) and punter Scott Ayers (Jr. Bethesda, Md.). Esposito missed all but two games last year with an injury, but went 5 for 5 in PAT’s. In 2013 he was 25 of 25 in PAT’s and 5 of 17 in field goals, and is looking to 2015 as his best season yet. White, Clarion’s snapper for punts and PAT’s/Field Goals, returns to that position again in 2015 for the fourth straight season. Ayers played in all 11 games last year and averaged 37.5 yards per punt, dropping 12 punts inside the 20.

QB WALTON LEADS BALD EAGLE OFFENSE

Lock Haven returns a number of veteran offensive pieces for the 2015 season. A year ago Lock Haven averaged 16.9ppg and 294.1 yards of offense per outing. The Bald Eagles gained 878.8 rushing yadrs per game and 294.1 passing yards.

Leading the LHU offense is junior quarterback Caleb Walton. In 2014 Walton started all 11 games and hit on 206 of 389 passes for 2,164 yards and 15 td’s to go with 16 interceptions. Also talented running the pigskin, he had 86 rushes for 210 yards and 3 td’s.

Plenty of quality receivers also return with top receiver David Cook (47 catches, 530 yards, 4 td’s) and Jeremy Cornelius (23 grabs, 279 yards, 1 td) ready clutch passes. Tailback Beau Swales also latched onto 32 passes for 253 yards and 2 td’s out to the backfield.

The ground game is also solid with Swales at tailback. The senior also played in all 11 games and led the team with 190 carries for 598 yards and 2 td’s. Malyk Harris also contributed 191 yards and 2 td’s and will also see time.

FOUR OF FIVE TOP TACKLERS RETURN ON THE DEFENSE

Lock Haven yielded 28.4 points per game in 2014. The Eagles saw opponents run for 177.2 yards per game and pass for 239.9 per contest giving the enemy 417.1 yards of total offense per game.

Up front noseguard Jack Peck (25 hits, 6.5 tfl’s) and end Brandon Bernazolli (3.5 tfl’s) anchor the defensive line.

The linebacking posts feature Tony Ballon (74 hits, 4.5 tfl’s), Carmelo Cruz (41 stops, 3.5 tfl’s) and Jeff Pickel (56 hits, 5.5 tfl’s) ready for action.

The secondary returns Daniel Strawbridge (81 tackles, 4 int’s) and Tyrai Anderson (39 hits) at the corners, with DeRon Lee (24 jolts, 1 int) back at strong safety.

Last season Clarion defeated Lock Haven 30-13. Last game in this series at Memorial Stadium. Phil Esposito’s 27-yard field goal and Ben Fiscus 18 yard td pass to Mark Nicholas put Clarion up 10-0, then Travis Day scored on a 22-yard run and the Eagles led 17-6 at halftime. Late in the second quarter QB Fiscus suffered a season ending knee injury. Bobby Thomas rushed for 147 yadrs and 1 td, while Travis Day had 77 yards and 1 td.

In 2012 Clarion defeated Lock Haven 30-28 at Lock Haven. Clarion qb Ben Fiscus hit Anthony Becoate with a 3-yard td pass on the game’s final play to give Eagles a 30-28 win… Clarion drove 90 yards in the final 1:21 to win. Lock Haven lost their 50th straight game – but led 28-24 with 1:26 remaining when Jarrett Kratzer tossed a 22-yard td pass to Jesse Hoover. Fiscus completed 26 of 42 passes for 324 yards and 3 td’s. Becoate caught 8 for 69 yards& 2 td’s; Aaron Barlow grabbed 5 for 77. Travis Day rushed for 60 yards and 1 td. Lock Haven’s Kratzer was 14 of 27 for 267 yards and 3 td’s. Brandon Brader rushed for 51 yards on 18 carries … Jesse Hoover caught 3 passes for 100 yards and 2 td’s.

In 2011 Clarion won 54-6 at Memorial Stadium – Clarion rushed for 423 yards in its 54-6 win against LH. QB Ben Fiscus rushed for 204 yards and 2 td’s, plus passed for 2 td’s in leading Clarion to the win. The defense held LH 171 yards of offense. Mike Zak led the team with 12 tackles.

IN 2010 Clarion won 49-6 at LHU. Fiscus completed 16 of 16 for 187 yards and 4 td’s. Fiscus also ran for 78 yards and 1 td. Jacques Robinson grabbed 7 passes for 84 yards and 1 td and broke the Clarion career receiving record in that game. Burkett completed 13 of 24 passes for 134 yards and 1 td. Jay Hartman caught 4 for 66 yards and 1 td. Barrington Morrison had 3 tfl’s – 2 sacks in that game.

In 2009 Clarion won 24-0. Alfonso Hoggard ran for 114 yards and 2 tds. Tyler Huether hit on 14 of 21 passes for 133 yards and 1 td. Jacques Robinson had 5 grabs for 55 yards and 1 td. LH qb Jarret Kratzer was 22 of 38 for 184 yards. The LH running game netted a minus 7 yards on 26 attempts.

New coach Chris Weibel played at Clarion from 1993-98. In 1995 he led Clarion to a 6-4 record completing 159 of 268 passes (59.3%) for 2,017 yards and 14 td’s. In 1996 he led the Eagles to an 11-3 overall record, the PSAC-West title, the NCAA Division II East Region Crown and a berth in the NCAA “Final Four” before losing in the final seconds to Northern Colorado 19-18. Weibel earned NCAA D-II All-America honors completing 208 of 356 passes (58.4%) for 2,880 yards and 32 td’s. Clarion won the Lambert Cup – top team in the East. …Weibel holds all four key career passing records at Clarion including passing attempts (1,065), completions (586), passing yards (7,845) and passing td’s (65).


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