Clairton football team back in familiar position
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Most WPIAL teams hope for an opportunity to play at Heinz Field on Black Friday.
A scant few expect it.
Then there is Clairton, which pretty much put its annual visit to the North Side on its schedule when it was released.
“We are real excited about the chance we have,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said. “To go back to Heinz Field again is great. I know it's the Steelers' home field, but we've been there so often, it almost feels like our home field too.”
He's not exaggerating.
This will be Clairton's seventh appearance in the WPIAL Class A championship game at Heinz Field since the district shifted the venue from Three Rivers Stadium in 2001. In their previous six appearances, the Bears are 5-1 and their five-game winning streak is the best by any visiting team since the stadium opened.
This time, however, Clairton (12-0) will have a lot more riding on the game than just a title. With a victory over second-seeded Sto-Rox (12-0) at 11 a.m. the Bears will extend their nation's-best winning streak to a state-record 60 games, breaking a tie with Central Bucks West (1997-2000) and will also win their fifth consecutive outright WPIAL championship to tie Braddock (1955-59) for the all-time mark.
“We want to go there and show everyone how great of a team we have,” Clairton quarterback Armani Ford said. “We can't wait to get there.”
Clairton defeated Sto-Rox, 42-6, in the 2011 final at Heinz Field.
Woodland Hills (10-2) has also been a regular participant in the WPIAL finals and has won three championships (2001-02 and '09) since the move from Three Rivers Stadium. But this might be one of the most unexpected Wolverines teams to make it to the finals after they came from the No. 7 seed in Class AAAA to defeat No. 2 Gateway, 17-14, and avenge a season-opening loss to No. 3 Upper St. Clair with a 42-20 victory over the Panthers in the semifinals.
“We tried to do a couple of different things,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said. “We had a lot of kids play well. (Quarterback) Cody (McClelland) did a nice job, Khalil Harper, Tom Greene and we had a sophomore in there, (Art) Thompkins, who scored a TD. He was in there for Miles Sanders (didn't dress), and (Jawan) Turner had a great game, defensively.”
Woodland Hills will get a shot at its sixth WPIAL title if it can upset top-seeded North Allegheny (12-0) in a rematch of the 2010 title game won by the Tigers, 21-14. The Wolverines won the only other championship game matchup between the two, 22-15, in the 1996 title game at Three Rivers Stadium.
There will be another No. 7 seed in the Class AAA final as West Mifflin (11-1) will attempt to win its first title since the West Mifflin North/South merger. Like Woodland Hills, the Titans upset the No. 2 (Mars) and No. 3 (Central Valley) seeds to make it into the finals, where they will play No. 4 West Allegheny (11-1) at 8 p.m.
A different Parkway Conference team has won each of the last three Class AAA titles, West Allegheny (2009), Central Valley (2010) and Montour in 2011.
“It is great feeling for our kids and coaching staff,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “They are probably one team I haven't seen all year.”
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.
- Gorman: McKeesport’s Hudson has name brand
- Plum football ready to defy skeptics, start winning tradition
- HSFB preview by position: WPIAL is stacked at last line of defense
- Highlands WR serves as speedy complement to his RB brother
- Chartiers Valley has playoffs on mind despite youthful roster
- Perry looking to return success to Keystone Oaks football
- Gateway football preparing for a season of change
- South Allegheny hoping to reverse course, start winning
- Freeport’s Hochbein twins bring experience on both sides of ball
- Different foes dot gridiron slate for Southmoreland football team
- Baldwin’s outlook bolstered by 16 returning starters