Undisciplined Clairton football team's miscues become worrisome
Clairton coach Tom Nola doesn't usually have cause to lose his temper after games.
Having the nation's longest winning streak certainly helps diffuse emotional reactions to the Bears' on-field lapses.
Still, there was no disputing Nola's anger when he addressed his team on the field after Trib Total Media Class A No. 1 Clairton (7-0, 7-0 Black Hills Conference) wore down No. 5 Bishop Canevin, 53-15, on Saturday at Dormont Stadium.
He publicly — and loudly — dressed down a team that had just won its 54th consecutive game, tearing his hat off at the end for emphasis.
“We didn't play all that well, and there were too many mistakes,” Nola said. “The personal fouls, that's why I was angry.”
Clairton was at its undisciplined worst against Bishop Canevin: The Bears took 17 penalties for 131 yards, including two personal fouls and one unsportsmanlike conduct. But it was an incident at the end of the game that set off Nola.
While the two teams shook hands, a Clairton player punched a Bishop Canevin player in the groin in retaliation for what he believed was a cheap shot earlier in the game. After most of the players left the field and headed to their respective locker rooms, Nola sought out Bishop Canevin coach Bob Jacoby and apologized for his player's actions.
“We'll try and practice it out, and I'll make them run for it,” Nola said. “We tried talking to them about it, but all we can do is try to discipline them at practice.”
It's not like this is the first time Clairton has committed its share of penalties. The Bears are notorious for presnap fouls and the occasional unsportsmanlike conduct.
Against Bishop Canevin (5-2, 5-2), Clairton was called for a defensive offsides penalty on the second play of the game, which helped the Crusaders launch a scoring drive to take a 6-0 lead 5:48 into the game. About to receive the second-half kickoff, the Bears were whistled for illegal formation.
But Clairton did what it always does: It overcame its shortcomings by taking advantage of its superior athleticism. The Bears shrugged off the illegal formation penalty when Vincent Moody returned the kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown — the second time he returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown (Monessen) — while Tyler Boyd erased a plethora of other miscues by carrying 12 times for 171 yards and five touchdowns.
Clairton also made Bishop Canevin pay dearly for its only turnover, as Terrish Webb returned an interception 102 yards for a score.
“The first interception he throws all year and it goes 102 yards the other way,” Jacoby said. “The kid jumped the route and played it well. But they wear you down with their speed, and we can't simulate it in practice.”
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.