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Central Clarion Hosts Union/A-C Valley Riding High With Big-Play Offense, Opportunistic Defense

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Central Clarion coach Dave Eggleton isn’t exactly sure why his team has started slowly during the first two weeks of the high school football season.

(Photo courtesy of the Central Clarion Wildcats Football Boosters.)

He just hopes they continue to finish fast.

Last week, the Wildcats climbed out of a 16-0 hole against Port Allegany with 29 unanswered points to win 29-24. In Week 1 against Brookville, Central Clarion was down 7-0 and then reeled off 42 unanswered for the victory.

“We haven’t really dwelled on it a whole lot,” Eggleton said. “I don’t know what the reason is. I don’t know whether it was nerves, we just haven’t been making plays that are there early in game for whatever reason. We need to play a cleaner football game from the start.”

Still, Central Clarion is 2-0 after convincing wins over Brookville and the Gators. The Wildcats host Union/A-C Valley at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.

Central Clarion is off to that good start in large part because of its big-play offense and opportunistic defense.

Sophomore quarterback Jase Ferguson already has 583 yards passing and seven touchdowns.

Four receivers have at least four receptions and 77 yards. Ashton Rex leads the way with 293 yards on just five catches and three touchdowns.

The defense has forced 12 turnovers in two games (seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries).

“Yeah, I don’t think we can count on getting six turnovers each week, but a lot of it goes to our guys being in the right position,” Eggleton said. “All week they prepare hard and they go out there and make plays. We put a lot of time in during the summer on 7-on-7 drills against some bigger schools. We sought out really good competition and I think in the long run that has really helped us learning how to compete with guys with the ball in the air and going up and getting those 50/50 balls.”

The star last week for Central Clarion was Dawson Hotchkiss, who had a forgettable first half, but certainly a memorable final two quarters in which he returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a TD and scored two more times after that in the win.

“Dawson probably had about the worst first half of any receiver I’ve coached,” Eggleton said. “And the way he responded — he probably had the best third quarter of any player I’ve ever coached, probably the best quarter of football. That shows you a lot about his character and that he didn’t put his head down and didn’t quit.”

Union/A-C Valley (1-1) has struggled over the last six quarters after building a 27-6 lead on Cameron County in the first half of Week 1.

The Falcon Knights won that game 27-14, but fell last week to Keystone, 43-7.

Union/A-C Valley coach Brad Dittman decided after that loss to change things up in the ways he and his coaching staff prepare the team.

“We watched a bunch of film. We don’t usually do that,” Dittman said. “We watched film from both nights to make sure that the guys saw everything that we were doing. We talked about a bunch of different things. Obviously, as a team, we haven’t played very well since the first half of the Cameron County game. We’ve been very undisciplined. We haven’t done a lot of good things. I think you’re going to see a different football team on Friday.”

The Falcon Knights’ offense has been a cause for concern with just seven points in the last six quarters.

Mikey Card leads the ground game with 89 yards on 22 attempts this season, but the team is averaging a mere 3.3 yards per carry.

Union/A-C Valley has just 341 yards of offense in two games.

Dittman, though, doesn’t think the offense is unrepairable.

“It hasn’t been all bad,” Dittman said. “We’re missing some things here and there. An assignment, our footwork, a bad throw, not making a catch. Not finishing a play. It’s all about cleaning those things up. These little things add up to big things and that’s what we saw last week. We’re working really hard on the little things now.”


Keystone is coming off an impressive 43-7 win over Union/A-C Valley and have one of the best 1-2 punches around in Kyle Nellis and Tyler Albright.

The duo combined for five touchdowns and more than 200 yards rushing last week.

With the running game working so well, first-year head coach Todd Smith hasn’t had to call too many passing plays. Rayce Weaver has completed just five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown this season.

The Panthers’ defense has also shined.

Albright already has four interceptions this season and returned one last week for a touchdown. Keystone has given up just 23 points in two weeks.

Brookville was without starting quarterback Charlie Krug last week in a 30-0 shutout loss to Tyrone. Not having him hurt as the Raiders managed just five first downs in the game.

RIDGWAY (0-2) at KARNS CITY (0-2)

Karns City is 0-2 for the first time since 2017 and Ridgway is also off to an uncharacteristic 0-2 start.

The Gremlins will again have a new quarterback under center in Mason Martin, who was 12 of 20 for 131 yards last week in a 25-15 loss to Redbank Valley.

Senior Eric Booher has a broken arm, but is still playing on defense.

Luke Cramer rushed for 102 yards for Karns City in the loss to the Bulldogs. The Gremlins moved the ball well for most of the game with 276 yards on the ground, but were turned away at the Redbank 1 on two occasions.

Ridgway has struggled mightily on offense with just 165 yards in two games. The Elkers fell 30-6 to Port Allegany in Week 1 and 27-6 to St. Marys last week.


Moniteau out-gained Elk County Catholic last week, holding the Crusaders to just a shade over 150 yards, but still lost 15-6.

Hunter Stalker continues to shine for the Warriors. He rushed for 154 yards on 21 carries last week and has 234 yards on the season. He is a big part of Moniteau’s offensive attack.

Cameron County fell 22-6 to Smethport last week.

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