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Brentwood gridders face daunting task

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:29 p.m.
South Hills Record
South Hills Record
Brentwood gridders, from left, senior quarterback Chris Shortley and sophomore running back Bill Madeja, were instrumental in the Spartans' 14-7 overtime win at Chartiers-Houston last week. Photos | Jeff Healy | for the South Hills Record

The Brentwood Spartans are quite familiar with the Clairton football team.

The undefeated Bears will visit Brentwood Stadium for a Black Hills Conference showdown Friday at 7:30 p.m.

“They are making history,” Kevin Kissel, Brentwood's head coach, said. “Our kids respect them, but they don't fear them. They feel like they're up for the challenge. We have a little game-plan. In theory, it can work.”

Brentwood (3-2, 3-2), which defeated Chartiers-Houston in overtime last week, 14-7, has faced the Bears (5-0, 5-0) three times in the past four seasons.

The local squad has lost by scores of 32-0 and 52-0 the past two years, and 42-7 in the first round of the 2008 WPIAL playoffs.

Clairton's historic run in football has been well-documented in recent years.

• The Bears, who crushed Fort Cherry last week, 65-0, have won a state-record 52 games in a row, are four-time defending WPIAL champions, and three-time defending PIAA champs.

• Clairton has captured six consecutive conference titles, and five of the past six WPIAL Class A championships.

• The Bears are 67-2 overall since the 2008 season, and 91-5 overall since 2006.

• Clairton is ranked No. 1 in Class A in the Trib Total Media weekly rankings, as well as No. 1 in the state.

After opening the year with a close 22-20 win at Chartiers-Houston, Clairton has reeled off 50 or more points in its last four games versus Carlynton (50-7), California (54-6), Monessen (52-7) and Fort Cherry.

The Bears have several big-time athletes, led by the highly decorated Tyler Boyd, a 6-2, 175-pound senior wide receiver who is being heavily recruited.

Boyd has more than 20 scholarship offers, from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and Notre Dame, along with others such as Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Michigan State, Mississippi, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.

In his latest performance, Boyd scored four different ways against Fort Cherry — on a 57-yard pass from Armani Ford, a 47-yard interception return, a 41-yard run and a 40-yard fumble recovery.

Boyd, the WPIAL's leading rusher in 2011 with 2,400 yards and 41 touchdowns, has accounted for 16 touchdowns this season, including nine rushing touchdowns.

While Boyd has drawn most of the headlines this season, the Bears certainly are not one dimensional.

Ford is a senior quarterback who has passed for more than 500 yards. One of his favorite targets is senior wideout Terrish Webb, a leading receiver from last year.

Brentwood will need a Herculean defensive performance to entertain any thoughts of an upset.

The Spartans held Chartiers-Houston scoreless through three quarters last week, before junior running back Justin Vickless provided some late-game heroics.

Vickless scored on a 2-yard pass from senior quarterback Chris Shortley with three seconds left in the fourth quarter.

He also registered the game-winning touchdown on a 2-yard run in overtime.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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