Bishop Canevin respects Clairton but won't be in awe
Football teams are creatures of habit during the season.
They follow detailed weekly schedules, starting with a film session of the previous game and finishing with a walk-through before the next.
This week things will be different for Trib Total Media Class A No. 5 Bishop Canevin (5-1, 5-1) and No. 1 Clairton (6-0, 6-0), as they have an extra day of practice in advance of their 7 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
The Crusaders couldn't have asked for a better time to get 24 more hours of prep time.
“They give you so many different looks offensively with people at two or three different positions, and you have to prepare for where they're going to line up,” Bishop Canevin coach Bob Jacoby said. “It's beneficial in that respect.”
Considering just how dominant Clairton has been since its Week 1 scare against Chartiers-Houston, the team might have earned an extra day off this week. After all, the Bears have outscored their past five opponents, 263-27, and have had a running clock in the second half of all five games.
Then again, the players know that might be a bad idea.
“We're not getting a day off, and we don't really want it,” Clairton senior receiver Terrish Webb said. “If we get a day off, we might get a little lazy or something.”
Clairton remains the top-ranked team in the WPIAL and state and enters the game riding a nation's-best 53-game winning streak. Though many teams have been in awe and even a bit deferential to the Bears during this run, Bishop Canevin is taking a different tack in an effort to motivate its players and keep the reverence in check.
“It's not just another opponent. It's a great opportunity, and these kinds of opportunities don't come along all the time,” Jacoby said. “You're going to play one of the greatest teams in WPIAL history and coming up on the state record, and there's a great opportunity to make a name for yourself. You can't be overwhelmed by what they have accomplished. You have to look at it like what you can accomplish, and it's going to take a masterful game.”
That may be an understatement.
After allowing 20 points to Chartiers-Houston in the opener — the most Clairton has given up in a regular-season game since a 50-21 win over Avonworth on Oct. 26, 2007, and more than they allowed in the entire 2010 and 2011 regular seasons — the Bears not allowed more than seven points in any game. Their lowest scoring output since the opener was last week, when they scored 42 in a 35-point win over Brentwood.
Bishop Canevin, meanwhile, rebounded well with a 32-point victory over Fort Cherry after a heartbreaking loss to Monessen.
“That first game was pretty much a wake-up call that every team we're going to play, they're going to come out and play their hardest,” Webb said. “That just means that we have to play hard, too, and with no games off.”
And apparently no days off, either.
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.