Clairton senior hopes for another shot on football field
Devonte Harvey spent most of Friday celebrating with his Clairton teammates after the Bears won their state-record and nation's-best 60th consecutive game in taking a fifth consecutive WPIAL Class A title with a 58-21 blowout of Sto-Rox at Heinz Field.
When the team takes the field Monday in preparation for its first state playoff game, however, Harvey will be watching. And his view from the sideline might not change throughout the Bears' run toward a fourth consecutive PIAA Class A crown.
Harvey, a starting senior guard/defensive tackle, injured his right knee — the preliminary diagnosis is a medial collateral ligament issue — with 10 minutes remaining in regulation and could be out of Friday's game against District 5 champion Berlin-Brothersvalley (11-1) at Golden Eagle Stadium in Somerset.
Early in the fourth quarter, Harvey was chasing Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams on a scramble when he was cut down with a block below the waist by Vikings receiver Craig Johnson.
“It's getting better, and the swelling is going down,” Harvey said. “But I don't think it's the MCL. I think it's the meniscus because I tore it after the first game of the season.”
Because of where Harvey was on the play — he was well behind Williams at the time — and that Johnson went low for a cut block outraged the Clairton coaching staff.
“You never see us block below the waist. We don't teach it, and you should never teach it,” Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne Wade said. “It's not allowed because a kid can get hurt every time. Every time where you hit a kid when he can't see you and you hit him below the waist, a kid can get hurt, and that's why I was upset. I was upset even more because everyone in the stadium saw it and it wasn't a penalty.”
Because the injury happened so late in the game, Harvey was unable to really get into the team's postgame championship festivities, which in many ways may have hurt worse than the knee.
Defensively, the team likely will slide junior Brandon Murphy over to replace Harvey, but finding a solid starter of his caliber on the offensive line will be more of a chore. The Bears have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the state and scored four of their eight touchdowns in the WPIAL finals on the ground.
“You just have to make some adjustments,” Wade said. “In Single-A, losing a kid like that always hurts, but we'll find somebody. We've got three more (games) and somebody will step up and grit it out for the next game.”
Still, all season long the team has been focusing on winning its 60th consecutive game to break the state record of 59 set by Central Bucks West from 1997-2000 and even had “Bout Dat 60” shirts made up for the WPIAL finals. The current senior class is now 60-1, its only loss coming in its first game as freshmen.
Now instead of 60, the players have a new number in mind: 63. And because the 63rd consecutive victory would be in the state championship at Hersheypark Stadium, Harvey certainly wants to be a part of that celebration in uniform on the field.
“If they give me the OK, I'll give it a go,” Harvey said. “But 63 is the new number for us. We like to win state championships and not just for us. The whole town is just hoping for us to win it.”
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.