District 2 champion Dunmore to provide final challenge for Clairton
Several times this season, opposing coaches have compared Clairton senior Tyler Boyd to former Jeannette standout Terrelle Pryor.
On the surface, it might seem a bit farfetched, but in reality, the similarities far outweigh the differences.
Pryor and Boyd are converted wide receivers who moved into the backfield. Pryor played under center as a quarterback for his final three years with the Jayhawks and racked up more than 4,000 yards both rushing and passing, Boyd is a multidimensional running back who also takes shotgun snaps out of the wildcat and can throw when called upon. He has rushed for a personal-best 2,459 yards this season and has scored a WPIAL-record 116 career touchdowns.
Defensively, both wreaked havoc on opposing teams at free safety and regularly made plays against the running game.
Strangely enough, though the two played in different classifications, they will end their high school careers the same way, as Clairton (15-0) will take on District 2 champion Dunmore (14-1) in the PIAA Class A championship game at 1 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium. Boyd can only hope the result will mirror Pryor's last game, when his Jeannette squad rolled Dunmore, 49-21, in the 2007 state Class AA finale.
“I would say the Pryor kid was probably the best high school player I've ever coached against, and he was outstanding,” Dunmore coach Jack Henzes said. “Pryor was much bigger than this young man (6-foot-6 to 6-2), and he could do so many things and, though I think the two are very comparable, Pryor was just a much bigger kid.”
Size is something that will come into play as Clairton makes its preparations for this matchup. Dunmore players average nearly 250 pounds across the offensive front and featuring one of the top prospects in the classification in 6-5, 265-pound right tackle Mike Boland, who has been on the radar of Pitt and Penn State, among others.
“You try to make sure you have all the gaps covered naturally and just try to get all 11 guys to the ball,” Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne Wade said. “We played a couple of teams like this in the past, like Sharpsville and Southern Columbia, that were a little bigger that just try to get after you, but we'll be prepared.”
Dunmore may run the ball more effectively than most teams Clairton has faced this season as it has two players — junior Daiqwon Buckley and senior Austin Seamon — who have eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau and have combined for 40 touchdowns. Though the Bucks throw the ball infrequently — junior starting quarterback Brandon Kujawski has completed half of his 82 attempts for 675 yards — they are efficient. Kujawski has 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Clairton, meanwhile, is still shuffling its defense as senior defensive back Titus Howard (elbow) has been ruled out and senior lineman Devontae Harvey (knee) might not be available.
Even without those two, Clairton was able to effectively shut down Port Allegany quarterback Matt Bodamer, the state's all-time single-season and career passing yardage leader, in the state semifinals. The Gators senior finished with 192 yards, but 77 of those and Bodamer's lone touchdown pass came against the running clock on the team's final drive.
“He got the Gatorade Player of the Year and there was a lot of talk we took that real personal,” Boyd said. “We just hate to see when people say they can beat us, and just because they've got stats doesn't mean they can play with us.”
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.