Share This Page

Clairton's high-powered offense boasts wealth of talent

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 8:32 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Clairton's Tyler Boyd eludes Sto-Rox's Elisha Bonner on a reverse during the second quarter of the WPIAL Class A championship game Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 at Heinz Field. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Clairton's Santeaun Sims makes a fingertip catch against Sto-Rox at Heinz Field during the WPIAL Class A Football championship game on Friday November 23, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

All season teams have geared up to stop Clairton's Tyler Boyd and with good reason. The Division I recruit is on the cusp of becoming the greatest touchdown scoring machine in WPIAL history and can beat teams with his legs, hands and arm.

No one has really slowed him down, much less halted the senior multipurpose back who has 2,507 yards of offense and 42 touchdowns this season.

About the only thing that did put a crimp in an otherwise flawless season came during the Bears WPIAL Class A semifinal win against Neshannock, when Boyd was limited by a sore back. For a moment it may have appeared Clairton was finally beatable.

Instead, what everyone learned was just how diversified and skilled the Clairton offense really is.

With Boyd's role reduced Clairton switched from a run-first team that utilizes multiple sets and a versatile Wildcat attack to a pass-first offense with the game on the shoulders of senior quarterback Armani Ford. Instead of slipping, the Bears offense thrived as Ford completed 10 of 14 for 154 yards and four touchdowns.

“When I went down with that back injury, it opened up things a whole bunch,” Boyd said. “Everybody started getting touches ... and I think coming into Heinz (Field for the championship game) we were a little overconfident.”

If anyone thought his showing against Neshannock was a fluke, Ford silenced his doubters in the WPIAL Class A championship game against Sto-Rox at Heinz Field when he shook off a pair of interceptions and completed 9 of 18 for 180 yards and three touchdowns and capped the scoring in the 58-21 blowout with a 1-yard sneak with 3:19 remaining in regulation.

“On offense we just have to step it up, play by play,” Ford said. “A lot of teams get up on top of us, and we've just got to make plays happen.”

Coming into the season, the quarterback position was a question mark. Clairton won two WPIAL championships and two state titles with Desimon Green, then won the WPIAL and PIAA Class A titles in 2011 with his backup, Capri Thompson, running the show.

Though Ford had considerable playing time thanks to the Bears many blowouts and running clock games last season, the coaches experimented with a three-quarterback system using Ford, Boyd and Bryon Clifford. Though Boyd does take considerable snaps in the backfield in the Wildcat, the base offense has been successfully — albeit quietly — run by Ford.

So far this season, he has completed 61 of 100 passes for 1,534 yards and 22 touchdowns.

“It feels good to put the team on my back and lead them,” Ford said. “It's nice to let them know I've got faith in them, know they've got faith in me and we can just ride it out.”

It doesn't hurt that Ford has two Division I receivers to throw to on the outside in Terrish Webb, a Kent State recruit who just this week received an offer from Pitt, and Pitt recruit Titus Howard. The two each have more than 500 receiving yards and have combined for 15 touchdowns.

With the passing game coming into its own, it should make things even more interesting when Clairton (13-0) looks to extend its nation's best and state-record winning streak to 61 on Friday at 7 p.m. against District 5 champion Berlin-Brothersvalley (11-1) at Golden Eagle Stadium in Somerset for the PIAA Class A quarterfinals.

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

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.