Clairton turns attention toward next goal — reaching 63 straight wins
Ever since Clairton won the 2011 PIAA Class A championship game against Southern Columbia, the only number on the team's mind has been 60.
It was hard to escape. After that 35-19 victory at Hersheypark Stadium, the Bears had established a new WPIAL record with 47 consecutive victories and needed 13 to break the state record set by Central Bucks West from 1997-2000.
Clairton (13-0) capped off its District 7 schedule with a 58-21 romp over Sto-Rox in the WPIAL Class A championship game at Heinz Field and quickly donned ‘Bout Dat 60 shirts signifying the school's impressive accomplishment. But after all the excitement of getting to this point, the Bears may need a little more motivation to avoid a letdown as they head into Friday's 7 p.m. game against District 5 champion Berlin-Brothersvalley (11-1) at Golden Eagle Stadium in Somerset in the PIAA quarterfinals.
“We're just going to stress the streak and keep stressing this until we lose,” Clairton senior quarterback Armani Ford said. “We just have to go hard, never slacking, and just go to work.”
To that end, 63 has become the new 60.
Clairton's senior class only has one loss in its four years, a 15-8 defeat at Laurel in the first game of their freshmen year. It may seem like an eternity, but the players have consistently used that loss for motivation.
So far, it has worked. Over the last four years the Bears are 60-1 with four WPIAL and three state championships to their credit. Now the players want to finish off their careers with a fourth PIAA Class A title, and the only way to do that is to extend their winning streak to 63 games.
“We're not going to worry too much about that record,” Clairton senior receiver Terrish Webb said. “We're just going to focus on getting to a state championship game by game.”
If Clairton has shown one thing in its run to the last three state titles it's that the team is able to immediately put the WPIAL finals into the rearview mirror and switch its view ahead to the next goal on the horizon. In the last three seasons, the Bears have played the District 5 champion and have not allowed a point in their three victories while rolling up an aggregate score of 142-0.
To illustrate just how dominant the Bears have been against District 5, consider that last season's 44-0 win against North Star was closest of the three games. The closest a District 5 champion has been to Clairton in any of its previous five state playoff appearances since 2000 was in 2006 when it beat Meyersdale, 32-14, before losing to District 10 champion West Middlesex in the semifinals.
That was also the only time the Bears have allowed a point to a District 5 team. They will enter the game with a 224 minute, 2 second shutout streak against District 5 opponents since Meyersdale scored with 8:02 remaining in the first half.
“They've been the best team in the state for the last three or four years, so we have our hands full,” Berlin-Brothersvalley coach Doug Paul said. “They have at least three and maybe upwards of five Division I football players, so we definitely have our work cut out for us.”
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.