WPIAL Class A semifinal matchup: Neshannock vs. Clairton
By Josh Yohe
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 8:48 p.m.
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Class A semifinal: (13) Neshannock (10-1) vs. (1) Clairton (11-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers-Houston
Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio is desperate to slow down Clairton superstar Tyler Boyd in the WPIAL Class A semifinals Friday at Chartiers-Houston.
Boyd's versatility has become the stuff of legend in Clairton — he thrives while playing running back, quarterback, wideout and free safety and also returning punts.
He'll be looking to add more touchdowns Friday.
In two dominant performances to begin the WPIAL postseason, Boyd has produced 11 touchdowns. He isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
“I've been able to coach against and see a lot of great high school football players,” Mozzocio said. “(Rochester's) Essex Law, (Aliquippa's) Chico Williams, (West Allegheny's) Mike Caputo and (Hopewell's) Rushel Shell were all great. And I'd put Boyd right up there with any of them.”
For all of Mozzocio's lavish praise of Boyd, his Neshannock team doesn't figure to let Clairton smell any fear.
“When I became the head coach here, I said that we'd always respect our opponents,” he said. “But that doesn't mean you have to fear your opponent. And we fear no team. That includes Clairton. We just won our first ever playoff game in school history. We're hungry for more.”
If ever there was a team worth fearing, Clairton would be it. The Bears have won 58 straight games, leaving them just one shy of the state record. Coach Tom Nola's team hasn't lost since Week 1 in 2009 and is playing its best football of the season, fresh off shutouts in three of its past four games.
Clairton, though, has plenty of respect for Neshannock.
“Look at the points that team puts up,” Nola said. “They have a very, very explosive offense.”
Neshannock doesn't have a player of Boyd's caliber but does boast star power. Quarterback Ernie Burkes has thrown for almost 1,500 yards and rushed for almost 800 more. Nola is well aware of Burkes' ability and the fact that Neshannock has exceeded 40 points in seven of its 11 games.
Boyd is averaging an astounding 14.3 yards per carry.
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