From the City of Prayer, there came an answer: The Clairton Bears, the WPIAL's most dominant team in decades and a welcome distraction for a depressed steel town and a distressed school district.
During a 66-game stretch that ranked as the nation's longest high school football winning streak and broke Pennsylvania state records for consecutive victories, Clairton captured the fascination of fans everywhere.
With every win, every WPIAL and PIAA Class A title accumulated along the way, the Bears brought back pride, prominence and promise of better days ahead. For the tiny town of Clairton, every Friday night was a celebration — not just of the players, but everyone in black and orange: from the band and cheerleaders who marched up Miller Avenue to Neil C. Brown Stadium to the pee-wee players dreaming of being Bears one day.
The streak started in September 2009 and would last four years and nine days. During that span, Clairton won four district and four state titles, broke Braddock's 51-year-old WPIAL record and Central Bucks West's 12-year-old state mark for consecutive victories.
Then, last Friday, the streak ended at the hands of the same school against which it began. Monessen's Greyhounds took a 14-0 halftime lead and a 28-point advantage in the fourth quarter. It was a role reversal for Clairton, long accustomed to overpowering opponents.
Now, it was on the wrong end of a 42-24 final score. The streak was over, and the Bears were left in tears.
“This just goes to show how incredible our streak was,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said. “We played bad, and Monessen was great. But I'm proud of what we did and of what the team accomplished.”
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