Five Clearfield players to participate in Lezzer Lumber Classic|
Thursday, June 21, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
ALLPORT - The band is getting back together one more time - and they're bringing a few friends.
After finishing up their playing career at Clearfield, Bison three-year starters Curtis Frye, Corey Knepp and Beau Swales will be joined by teammates Ryan Hertlein and Eric White suiting up for the North squad at the 28th Lezzer Lumber Football Classic Friday at Huntingdon's War Vets Field.
The North is practicing this week at West Branch Area High School.
Clearfield is one of just two teams to have five players (the maximum allowed) on the North. DuBois is the other.
"It feels good to have so many kids here from Clearfield," Hertlein said. "It's just great to be part of this, and it's a huge tradition for Clearfield. A lot of my friends have played in this game, so it feels good to be here, too.
"It's definitely a compliment to our program and all our coaches," Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. "It makes me real happy to have five kids on the team almost every year."
And the North squad is blessed with having five kids from the winningest three-year period in Bison program history.
Clearfield was 31-7 over the past three seasons with Frye starting at quarterback, Knepp at center and Swales at linebacker and in the offensive backfield.
And the three are hoping to make one more big splash on the gridiron as teammates Friday night.
"It means a lot," Knepp said. "We've been together through everything. It will kind of be our last hurrah. It's bittersweet."
"It's our last hurrah before we part ways and head to college," Swales said. "I just hope Curtis and Corey and I have good games. We've been playing together since seventh grade."
Frye hopes that he and Swales can make an impact on the scoreboard and end their high school playing career in style.
"It would definitely be nice to hook up with Beau on a touchdown pass, because we've been doing that since seventh grade," he said. "It's definitely nice to play with those two guys again. Beau and Corey are two of my best friends, to say the least."
But on top of that, Frye is just happy to be competing in the game, making new friends and sharing the experience with old ones.
"It's really cool to meet all these new guys, and play football with them," Frye said. "And it's nice to play with Beau, Eric, Corey and Hert for the last time.
"The talent level here is very good. I played in the East-West Game and that was very high, too. It's cool to be around guys that you always see in the paper and you know of them, but you've never had the opportunity to play with them."
The talent level Frye speaks of as well as size and speed are the biggest differences most of the Bisons see when comparing their own high school practices to Lezzer practices.
"There are some pretty big kids here, so it's kind of different seeing huge kids in practice," Hertlein said.
"It's kind of like practicing against the best kids from Clearfield, but everybody is that good," White said. "It's interesting, and it's a challenge. But it's a good challenge."
The high level of talent gathered during Lezzer Lumber Classic week is also a sneak peak at what guys continuing their playing careers in college might face.
"This isn't your typical high school practice," Swales said. "There are a lot bigger boys here. Quicker too. It might be a little bit like what I'll see in college."
Swales is heading to Lock Haven to continue his football career and plans to study criminal justice.
Frye and White will be joining him in the PSAC, playing for Millersville and Clarion, respectively. Frye will be playing quarterback for the Marauders and studying history, hoping to become a teacher and coach after graduation.
White is going to do the long snapping for the Golden Eagles and major in business management.
He says the week of practice for the Classic has helped remind him what it takes to play football and has been a good warm-up for what is to come.
"It's good to start hitting again and to get the pads back on," White said. "You kind of forget how it is when you've been away for a couple months."
Knepp is also continuing his football career, doing it at Lycoming where he will study criminal justice and hopes to become a state police officer.
He agrees that this week has helped in preparing him for what's to come.
"We're going against the best of the best in the area," Knepp said.
Knepp will line up at center for the North and Swales is playing tailback, so the learning curve for the two of them was small in North head coach Lester Smeal's offense.
But Frye, Hertlein and White each had to make some adjustments in their games.
Frye is playing quarterback, but will not be in shotgun in the familiar spread offense run at Clearfield.
"We're under center the entire time, so that's different," Frye said. "But you have to adapt. I like it. It gives me a challenge to learn."
Hertlein, who is going to take a year off from school before enrolling in a small college to study communications, is playing on the defensive line, likely on the end. And while he played there some at Clearfield, it was mostly out of a 3-point stance.
"I played end toward the end of the season, but this is standup end," he said. "So this is kind of hard because I was used to the 3-point stance."
And White is moving from his normal defensive position at Clearfield, but sees enough similarities that he is pretty comfortable with his job for the North.
"I was an outside linebacker, but the coaches here run a 5-man front, so I'll be playing some defensive end, and I might be long snapping too," White said. "But we blitzed a lot at Clearfield and this is kind of the same technique. I'm still in a 2-point stance."
While the Lezzer experience has been a little challenging, it has also been very rewarding for the Bisons.
"It's exciting to play with all the best players from central Pennsylvania, and good to meet them all," White said. "I know some of them from camps and stuff, but it's good to be here with them."
"It's amazing," Swales said. "It's the last time you get to suit up with your high school boys on the field. It's a little different though, too, since you're now playing with guys that were your enemies on Friday night. But everyone's having a good time."
And everyone is hoping the good time will continue Friday night and the Bison quintet helps lead the North to a victory.
"These kids have been a staple of the program and represent everything we work for," Janocko said. "They are outstanding kids. They will represent our team and our town very well."