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Clairton's swagger could play role in title-game rematch with Sto-Rox

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 1:21 a.m.
Frazier's Hunter Patterson (left) and Chaise Bertocci (back) struggle to stop Clairton's Terrish Webb in the first half of Clairton' s match up against Frazier at James Weir Stadium in Belle Vernon during the WPIAL Class A First Round Playoff Game on Friday, November 2, 2012. Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review

Over the last five years, Clairton has taken the field with a swagger few can match.

Quite a few have tried. But the Bears have been able to back up their bravado with a brand of football that has taken both the WPIAL — and the nation — by storm.

It's hard not to be impressed with what Clairton (12-0) has accomplished. Not only have the Bears reeled off a state-record-tying and nation's best 59-game winning streak, they have become the first team since the current four-classification format came into being in 1980 to win four consecutive WPIAL championships and are the only WPIAL school to three-peat at the state level.

Even with all those accomplishments, however, there will be a bit of tension for Clairton at 11 a.m. Friday when it steps onto the grass at Heinz Field for the fifth consecutive season. Not only will the Bears be on the verge of stepping past Central Bucks West (1997-2000) to move into first place in state history with a possible 60th consecutive victory, they could tie Class AA Braddock (1955-59) as the only teams to win five consecutive outright WPIAL titles.

With all that on the line, even a group that has done it all knows that there is a bit more riding on the game against Sto-Rox (11-1) than just a rematch of the 2011 championship.

“I do think there's more pressure because we don't want to let the city down,” Clairton senior Terrish Webb said. “We're always reminded of how we're going to break the records, so we don't want to lose or anything and there is more pressure.”

Clairton certainly doesn't want to parallel the team it caught up to with its 37-7 victory over Neshannock in last week's semifinals. When Central Bucks West won 59 consecutive games, it defeated Erie Cathedral Prep in the 1999 state championship game, then turned around and lost to the Ramblers in the rematch in the Class AAAA title game at Hersheypark Stadium the following year.

And Sto-Rox would like nothing more than to take on the Ramblers' spoiler mantle.

“We looked at the whole season as, every week, we just wanted to be 1-0 and, though this game is probably a little bit bigger, that's our goal this week,” Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said. “For us, it's a WPIAL championship and for them it's 60 in a row, but even for them it's one game and we're just looking to be 1-0.”

Last season, Clairton rolled over the Vikings, 42-6, to win its fourth consecutive title and fifth in six years.

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.

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