Clairton football team edging closer to state-record streak for wins
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Clairton has been building toward this moment for more than three years.
With a victory in their WPIAL Class A semifinal against Neshannock (10-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers-Houston, the Bears would win their 59th consecutive game and tie Central Bucks West for the longest winning streak in Pennsylvania football history.
“We kind of had the same routine through the whole thing because we didn't talk to the team about it,” said former Central Bucks West coach Michael Carey, a Pitt alumnus and former Panthers football player.
Like Clairton, Central Bucks West won consecutive Class AAAA state championships from 1997-99. But after the third, a 14-13 victory over Erie Cathedral Prep, Bucks coach and Mike Pettine Sr. stepped aside. Carey took over a team in the midst of a 45-game win streak.
“When I took the head job, and following a legend that I had worked for as an assistant, I knew it was going to be a giant task. But we went through the preseason and though I'd been there, I never felt the pressure like I did when I was head coach,” Carey said.
“That became a 1,000-pound gorilla because you don't want to be the coach or the team who was there when the streak ended.”
Central Bucks West went into the 2000 season chasing both its own shadow and that of Braddock. The Bucks had set the state record with a 53-game winning streak that began with the start of the 1984 season that tied Braddock's WPIAL-record unbeaten streak from the 1950s.
On Oct. 20, 2000, Central Bucks West defeated Harry S. Truman, 49-0, to tie the record, then shut out Pennsbury, 37-0, the following week to set the mark of 54.
“After we broke the record, the team started playing tight,” Carey said. “We had just come off three straight titles, and the streak was just becoming a monster. The media was crazy and each game was adding to it, and getting to 54 wins was a lot bigger thing than I thought when I took the job.”
He made it to 59, guiding the team to the PIAA Class AAAA championship game and a rematch with Cathedral Prep. The Bucks were finally stopped as Jawan Walker scored from 4 yards out to give the Ramblers a 41-35 overtime victory at Hersheypark Stadium.
“Our approach wasn't necessarily worrying about the streak because we were trying to get even with them for the year before. Because, even though it was a great game, we still ended up losing,” Cathedral Prep coach Mike Mischler said. “That streak was brought up a lot of the time by a lot of people. But I think when you look back on it that you were the team that stopped a 59-game streak, it was a nice feather in our cap as well as winning the state title, and everything else that came with that.”
Because there is a chance that Clairton (11-0) will tie the streak this week and could break it Nov. 23 at Heinz Field in the WPIAL Class A championship game, it does put what Central Bucks West accomplished into perspective.
“I said it many times that it was a streak that would never be broken, and my hat's off to Clairton, but I will say this: winning 59 straight games and three state titles in Quad A is a lot different than winning it in Single-A. There's no doubt in my mind,” Carey said.
“Obviously they have a great team to get to this point and all records are meant to be broken, and if they can pull it off, maybe that's a record that will never be broken.”
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pa. trooper ambush suspect Frein in court after long manhunt
- 5 Cal U football players arrested for assault; Saturday’s game canceled
- Fleury, Penguins too much for Kings
- Pirates likely to seek pitcher, catcher when free agency starts
- Veteran LB Harrison: Steelers must play to way defense is set up
- Emaciated Lab-collie mix found in garbage bag in New Stanton
- Steelers notebook: Fully healthy, rookie WR Bryant progressing fast
- Rossi: The best Penguins defense is ... a potent offense
- Hackers’ new Dyre malware infects W.Pa. computers, vexes FBI cyber agents
- ‘Big play’ moniker fits veteran Steelers cornerback Gay
- Day 7 of Ferrante trial expected to include testimony from victim’s colleague