When the 2015 PSAC preseason poll was released back in early August, the Clarion Golden Eagles were selected last in an eightteam western division, after finishing with a 2-9 overall record and a 2-7 conference mark.
Five weeks into the season, though, that prediction is just a little off. Clarion, a program that finished with eight straight losses to end the season a year ago, which effectively finished the tenure of head coach Jay Foster, has opened up the new campaign with five straight wins and a 2-0 start in PSAC West play.
The Golden Eagles, one of six teams in the conference and three teams in the west without a league loss, outscored the likes of Lock Haven, Millersville and Cheyney 126-40 in their first three outings.
Clarion scored consecutive wins over western division title contenders Gannon (47-31 on Sept. 26 in Erie) and Mercyhurst (41-27 last week at home) heading into this week’s contest.
After coaching the last 11 seasons with the program and each of the last two campaigns working as the team’s offensive coordinator, Clarion promoted Chris Weibel to head coach on Feb. 6 of this year.
The Golden Eagles are averaging 42.8 points per game, good for second in the PSAC, as Clarion boasts one of the premier offenses in the league this year through five games.
Junior quarterback Connor Simmons enters this week having thrown for 1,647 yards and 17 touchdowns, to just two interceptions, while completing nearly 68 percent of his passes. He’s logged the best completion percentage among PSAC starters.
Junior receiver Matt Lehman paces the Golden Eagles with 36 receptions, 479 yards and 10 touchdown catches. Fellow junior receiver Kevin Genevro has added 17 receptions for 405 yards and three touchdowns. Genevro is averaging 23.8 yards per catch, good for second in the league.
In the all-times series, Edinboro holds a 46-38-2 advantage over its longtime conference counterpart. The Fighting Scots have taken five straight in the series against Clarion, while outscoring the Golden Eagles 165-72 during that streak. Edinboro registered a 9-7 win the last time Clarion visited Sox Harrison Stadium.
Last year, the Fighting Scots scored a 56-28 road win at Memorial Stadium in Clarion behind five turnovers forced, allowing just 36 rushing yards and recording five sacks.
An Edinboro offense that finished 6-of-6 in the red zone, while converting all three of its fourth downs in the game, was led by wide receiver Darren Massey’s nine receptions and three touchdown grabs in the affair.
The two clash this Saturday for Edinboro football’s 2015 homecoming game, which kicks off at 2 p.m. at Sox Harrison Stadium.
Mike Fenner is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.