High school football notebook: Clairton in danger of rare back-to-back losses
More than a decade has passed since Clairton lost in consecutive weeks. It was before Lamont Wade, Aaron Mathews or Tyler Boyd was in high school.
Not since 2005 have the Bears lost two regular-season games in a row.
But they're in some danger Friday.
A week after losing to Imani Christian, Clairton visits undefeated Aliquippa (6-0), the state's No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A. Clairton (4-1) is ranked No. 5 in WPIAL Class A.
Clairton defeated Aliquippa, 52-16, last season at Neil C. Brown Stadium. Friday's game is at Carl A. Aschman Stadium in Aliquippa.
“You've got to dust yourself off,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “It's a life lesson. Maybe we did something during the week that we shouldn't have, or didn't work as hard, or didn't pay attention to detail. We had to come back Monday and start over.”
The 18-6 loss to Imani was only Clairton's second loss in the past 93 regular-season games. The Bears had won 35 in a row since their last regular-season loss, 42-24 to Monessen on Aug. 20, 2013.
“Because of our history and everything we've accomplished, being ranked No. 1, it was truly a shock to everyone,” Wade said. “We played a decent football team, and it wasn't our night. We've had those nights. We felt when we lost to Monessen (in 2013), we were definitely a better team. … It happens. It just doesn't happen that often to us.”
Clairton started its 2005 season with losses to Washington, Rochester and Duquesne. Since 2006, though, the Bears are 157-11 overall.
Technically, Clairton lost two in a row in the 2008-09 seasons, when the Bears lost in the state final to end one season and then lost their season opener the next. But those losses were eight months apart.
When Vincentian Academy folded its football team in late summer, most opponents in the Class 2A Three Rivers Conference were left with an open week. However, Serra Catholic found a replacement and will travel Friday to Fort Hill, Md. The Cumberland, Md. school is a four-time defending state champion in Class A.
Westinghouse was scheduled to face Fort Hill last week but canceled because of injuries, the Maryland school announced.
AT&T Sports Network, formerly Root Sports, will start its WPIAL football television coverage this season with Penn Hills at North Allegheny at 7:30 p.m. Friday, a Northern Seven matchup in Class 6A.
WPNT-22 continues its coverage with Clairton at Aliquippa, a 7 p.m. nonconference matchup.
The TribLIVE High School Sports Network will have live online video streaming of Upper St. Clair at West Allegheny at 7 p.m. at tribhssn.triblive.com.
North Allegheny football celebrated win No. 400 with a 44-27 victory over Mt. Lebanon last Friday. Starting in 1957, NA always has played in the largest enrollment classification.
The school opened in 1954 when a high school was built on the former Cole Farm along Cumberland Road, now the site of the intermediate school. The current high school along Perry Highway opened in 1974.
In 1975, the Tigers won the first overtime game in WPIAL history, a 13-10 playoff victory over Kiski Area at Valley High Memorial Stadium.
NA has won four WPIAL titles in its history: 1990 and 2010-12.
Move to the center
Ejections from a week earlier forced Imani Christian to shuffle its Week 5 lineup against Clairton, and nobody made a more drastic shift than running back Brian Yates. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior joined the offensive line.
“(Yates) sacrificed everything to play center for his team and had an absolutely outstanding game,” said Imani coach Ronnell Heard, whose Saints defeated Clairton, 18-6. “He looked me in my face and said he'd do whatever it took to help the team.”