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After 38 Years, 307 Wins, Clearfield’s Janocko Retiring

Tim Janocko receives D9 championship plaque in 2021. Photo by Jared Bakaysa

CLEARFIELD, Pa. – Thirty-eight years. 307 wins. 16 District 9 titles. Winningest coach in District 9 history. One of 21 coaches in Pennsylvania High School Football History with 300 or more wins.

Those are numbers that will never be matched in D9 history, and those are numbers that belong to Clearfield’s Tim Janocko, who announced his retirement from coaching the Bison football team over the weekend.

“I have been very blessed,” Janocko said. “We had so many great kids, so many great assistant coaches, so many great people who wanted to be part of the program and who helped the program through the years. I have been blessed to have them be part of my life.”

It was the Fall of 1985 when the then 25-year-old Janocko took over the Clearfield program from John Wiley, whose team was coming off a 5-4-1 mark in 1984.

           

Tim Janocko after winning his 300th career game, 7-3, over Bald Eagle Area in 2022

The No. 1 movie in the United State was Back to the Future. The top song was “I want to Know what Love Is” by Foreigner. That spring Coca-Cola introduced the now infamous “New Coke”

“Those first couple of years, Clearfield, you know, was a place not known for having football coaches last a long time,” Janocko said. “The longest-tenured coach up to that point was a guy named Marty Koons. He had coached for eight years (1954-1960).”

Koons was the winningest coach in Clearfield history prior to Janocko with 37 wins (37-42-1).

To put that in perspective, Janocko won 30 postseason games (30-30) in his career, which by itself would be the third-most in Clearfield history (not counting himself) behind only Koons’ 37 and 31 from Kevin Karrs (31-32-2 from 1975-80).

“I never really thought about it like that,” Janocko said.

Overall, Janocko went 307-121-3 (he was the last active D9 coach with a tie) in his 38 years at the helm with 15 District 9 titles and two sub-regional titles. His teams won five PIAA playoff games, had 12 double-digit win seasons, eight unbeaten regular seasons, nine one-loss seasons, and 14 seasons with two or fewer losses. Only four times in 38 years did his team not end with a winning record, and the last 27 teams all had winning records.

“We had to carve our way out of things in the beginning and build the program from the bottom up,” Janocko said. “It took time, and then it started to blossom and started to roll.”

Roll it did.

After winning 10 games in 1989 (D9 didn’t have playoffs for its higher classifications back then), Clearfield won its first D9 title in 1994 behind one of the all-time great QBs, Chad Kroell.

“I felt we were going to be really good the year before,” Janocko said. “We were playing a lot of teams in passing leagues and doing things that were phenomenal. We had some Division 1 players on that team. This was before people were really winging the ball around as they do now, but we were. That was a special group, as was the 1989 team, which was our first double-digit win team before the playoffs.”

Janocko with KC Lezzer from Lezzer Lumber. Photo by Logan Cramer III. Lezzer’s three sons all starred for the Bison under Janocko.

           

After the 1994 title, titles started coming in bunches for the Bison(s) – the school had an “s” on its nickname for the longest time even though it was grammatically incorrect – with D9 championships in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2020, 2021, and 2022 and subregional titles in 2013 and 2018.

But even with all the wins, all the championships, the thing Janocko is most proud of is the role he played in so many young people’s lives.

“The biggest thing we did was we instilled a sense of toughness and pride where kids would get knocked down but were able to handle adversity,” Janocko said. “A key component of high school football is that it prepares kids for life. As I always told them, football isn’t hard but life is. Football gets you ready for life. These kids didn’t always have an eas time. Some of them at tough lives. Seeing them go on and succeed is most gratifying for me. I am so proud they come back and are doing so well.”

Janocko said he has been considering retirement for the last couple of years but didn’t make a final decision until after this season when the Bison went 8-4 and won another D9 title before falling to Central-Martinsburg (who is currently in the PIAA semifinals) in a subregional game.

“I guess I have been thinking about it for a couple of years now,” Janocko said. “When my son (Andrew, the QB coach of the Chicago Bears) started moving up in the NFL. We also have had some grandkids, and grandkids are the greatest. I love them. We have two and two on the way. In the last couple of years, the dynamics of the family have changed. I want to be more involved in following my son in the NFL and spending time with the grandkids. Coaching football is a huge commitment if you are doing to do it the right way.

           

“Honestly, it was 50-50 going into this year. It is hard to go right now. I love where the program is at. We have some great football players coming back next year, and it is not an easy decision to make with the type of kids we have coming back. I wanted to make sure the next guy was going to be successful. I want the program to continue to be successful. That is important to me. My wife (Trina) and I talked. She was supportive either way. She said wait a couple of weeks after the season, do some thinking. I like where things are with the program, and I want do some things with family, with our church. I felt this is the time.”

Speaking of his wife, Janocko said he wouldn’t have lasted 38 years as head coach without her.

“She was the most important part,” Janocko said. “Younger coaches ask me all the time, how do you last so long? I tell them they have to marry the right girl. It takes a lot of commitment. How many wives would put a mortgage against their house to build the field house” She is a special lady. I think she knew what she was getting into too. I was kind of crazy from the beginning.”

Janocko said the best years of his coaching career were getting to coach his son, Andrew, who quarterbacked the Bison.

“There is no question that was the most special time in my career,” Janocko said. “We won some championships together, and my daughter was a cheerleader. The whole family was involved with my wife running the concession stand like she did for 30-some years.”

While Janocko is stepping away from coaching football, football isn’t going anywhere in his life, especially with Andrew coaching in the NFL.

“I just want to spend more time around his career,” Janocko said. “It’s nice being able to go to training camp and practices and such like that. I will definitely we around football. (Andrew) and I talk every day, and we talk football every day. We talk other things too, but it always comes back to football. We honestly share ideas every day. He has a lot of good ideas, and I have some experience. It’s great to have that kind of relationship.”

Janocko with son, Andrew, and wife, Trina, when Andrew was coaching with the Minnesota Vikings. Andrew is now the QB coach of the Chicago Bears

Janocko thinks the stuff he will miss most is working with the kids and his assistant coaches.

“I am going to miss trying to mold the kids and working with them,” Janocko said. “I will miss the camaraderie in the locker room with the assistant coaches as well. But it is just another part of life.”

From nearby Moshannon Valley High School, Janocko starred in football and went on to play at Penn State. It was at Penn State that he decided he wanted to become a coach.

“Playing at Penn State was a life changer because of a lot of great people,” Janocko said. “Being around Coach (Joe) Paterno was life-changing. You learned how things were done. Accountability was big. Being on time, the little things like that were really ingrained in me.”

While at Penn State, Janocko had the chance to be part of the 1979 Sugar Bowl following the 1978 season when the Nittany Lions lost, 14-7, to Alabama in the defacto National Title Game.

But his best memory of that game actually involved his wife, who he barely knew at the time.

“My wife and her dad went to the Sugar Bowl that year,” Janocko said. “It was a present for her graduation. I hadn’t really met her, but we knew each other because we were from the same high school. I asked if she wanted to go on a date, but her dad said no. We didn’t really go out for another couple of years. I always told her dad, I wouldn’t have let her go out with me either (said with a laugh).”

Janocko, who also spent some time as Clearfield’s Athletics Director and Principal, isn’t sure what direction Clearfield will take with its next football coach, but he is willing to offer advice if the school district wants his input.

“I will offer whatever is asked of me,” Janocko said.

THE JANOCKO FILE

YEAR WINS LOSSES TITLES
2022 8 4 D9 3A
2021 11 1 D9 3A
2020 4 2 D9 3A
2019 9 3
2018 12 1 Subregion 4A
2017 6 5
2016 10 2
2015 9 2 D9 3A
2014 9 3 D9 3A
2013 13 1 D9 3A, Subgegion 3A
2012 11 1 D9 3A
2011 11 2 D9 3A
2010 13 1 D9 3A
2009 7 4
2008 10 3 D9 3A
2007 7 4
2006 7 4
2005 6 5 D9 3A
2004 10 1 D9 3A
2003 7 3
2002 9 3 D9 3A
2001 8 2
2000 7 3
1999 9 3 D9 3A
1998 11 1 D9 3A
1997 8 3
1996 6 5
1995 3 7
1994 12 1 D9 4A
1993 7 4
1992 6 5
1991 4 6
1990 7 4
1989 10 1
1988 6 3
1987 2 8
1986 7 4
1985 5 6
TOTALS 307 121 16 D9 Titles, 2 Subregional Titles

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