Under ideal circumstances, Johnstown coach Tony Penna Jr. and his players would have preferred to spend last weekend defending their District 6 Class AAA title.
The Trojans had won 6-AAA gold during each of the previous two seasons and certainly had the inside track to repeat in a two-team field this year.
Instead, Johnstown had a bye week because the only other team in a disturbingly thin
6-AAA field, Bellefonte, had only one win. For obvious reasons, the Red Raiders opted not to enter the playoffs with what might be best labeled a sub, sub-.500 record.
Penna and his staff made the most of the extra time in preparing for District 9 champion Clearfield. The Trojans (9-1) and Bisons (10-1) will play at
1 p.m. on Saturday at Mansion Park.
“After a physical game against a team like Forest Hills and a long season it was nice to rest some of our bumps and bruises,” Penna said. “It’s unfortunate to not have a game but we utilized some of that time to work on our game. We had two weeks. We worked on some things we might not have gotten to in the past. We tried to use the time to get better.”
Johnstown had an opportunity to scout Clearfield during its 28-7 win over St. Mary’s in the District 9 championship game last week in DuBois. Players returning from last season also remember how the Bisons exploited a few parts of the Trojans’ game as Clearfield beat Johnstown 28-12 in the playoffs last season.
“At this point, we’re still hungry because we’re still disappointed about how our season ended last year,” Penna said.
“With this group I just know they still have that bad taste in their mouth. You’re looking to validate what your body of work is. Sure, you’re 9-1 and you’re happy with that, but the playoffs validate what you did as a team.
“The kids are hungry to set themselves apart.”
In that 2010 game, undefeated Clearfield used a 3-4 defense to disrupt Johnstown’s offense and force four turnovers during a game played at DuBois.
The Trojans started strong, moving 70 yards in seven plays, a march capped by quarterback Gervon Simon’s 28-yard touchdown pass to then-senior Calvin Anderson.
But Clearfield responded with a 10-play drive for a 7-6 advantage. Four of Johnstown’s next seven possessions ended with turnovers.
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