WORTH THE WAIT: Central Clarion Eager to Get Back on the Field, Gunning for D9 Class 2A Title Against Resurgent Brookville

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Central Clarion football coach Dave Eggleton was already not excited about having a week off before playing for a District 9 Class 2A championship.

Now he and his team have to wait another day.

(Photos by Madison McFarland)

Because of a forecast of heavy rain and wind on Friday night, the title tilt between the Wildcats and Brookville was moved to Saturday at 7 p.m. at Karns City High School.

“I’m not a huge fan of the bye week,” Eggleton said. “And, obviously, coming off a loss (to Redbank Valley in the regular-season finale), it kind of feels like we’ve been sitting on that feeling for two weeks. But I think our guys responded well. We really took last week and just worked on getting better at what we do.”

Central Clarion (9-1) went hard in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

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

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“The guys responded well and they competed,” Eggleton said. “Our guys really responded to the intensity level that we were looking for, even though we didn’t have a game last week.”

The Wildcats have one this week and they will play an opponent that looks nothing like the one they played in Week 1.

Back then, Brookville had Charlie Krug at quarterback, a lethal group of receivers and a dangerous, tried-and-true spread offense.

Krug got hurt. So did his backup. That changed everything.

After a 1-4 start, Brookville coach Scott Park took an eraser to the first half of the season. Wiped it away. Started anew, right down to the atoms of how the offense would operate.

Gone was the spread. In was a ball-control, run-heavy offense led by senior Noah Peterson, who had never played quarterback before.

What resulted was a resurgence far beyond Park’s wildest dreams. The Raiders have gone 6-1 since that start and are playing for a district title.

“We just kind of hit the reset button,” Park said. “We knew at that point in time that our goals were still attainable. We could still get to the playoffs. We could still play for a district title. They have really come together as a team and are really starting to enjoy themselves and each other.”

Peterson is playing well, completing 77 percent of his passes for 797 yards and nine touchdowns.

Brookville beat Karns City, 31-7, last week in the semifinal after falling behind 7-0.

The run-first offense led by Jackson Zimmerman and his 1,038 yards this season may be the best tonic to Central Clarion’s attack.

The goal: grind clock and keep the Wildcats’ explosive offense from running plays.

“Our new offense allows us to do that,” Park said. “They can help us out. If they can play some ball control and sustain some drives and keep the ball out of their hands, that’s a better fit for us.”

There’s a lot for Brookville’s defense to be concerned about.

No sophomore slump for Central Clarion quarterback Jase Ferguson. He has thrown for 2,451 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. He’s also been unleashed in the running game with 448 yards.

Ashton Rex has put up eye-popping numbers with 56 receptions for 1,413 yards and 12 touchdowns. His speed is unmatched.

“I know Rex in the first game caught me by surprise,” Park said. “I knew he had decent speed. I didn’t realize how fast he was.”

That stresses a defense. But Brookville may have the horses in the secondary to run with Central Clarion.

Peterson has nine interceptions this season and Brayden Kunselman has picked off seven passes.

“I think on defense we have to stay away from the big splash plays,” Park said.

That may be easier said than done.

Central Clarion has feasted on the big play.

And, like Brookville, has also taken the ball away from the opponent.

“That’s something that we’ve done a lot this year — grab momentum,” Eggleton said. “Two weeks ago we made the big mistake. That’s something we’re gonna have to avoid doing.”

For both teams, playing for a title is vindication of sorts.

Last year, it was Central Clarion that started in a 1-4 hole and managed to reach the playoffs, but fell in the first round to Karns City.

“Win or lose (on Saturday), we have a fantastic group of kids,” Eggleton said. “What they’ve accomplished this already this year, I don’t think anyone at the beginning of the season had us penciled in at 9-1 and in the district title game. It just goes to show that the credit all goes to these kids and how hard they’ve worked. They’ve taken that challenge of being underestimated coming into the season and they took it and used it as fuel to get where we are right now.”

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