Despite roster turnover, Clairton pledges to continue winning run
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
For five years, Clairton has been the gold standard by which all others in WPIAL Class A are measured.
Five consecutive titles, four straight state championships, a national-best and state record 63-game winning streak and several players competing at the Division I FBS level will do that.
This season, however, the Bears don't have three bona fide top-level collegiate prospects at the skill positions. In fact, Clairton graduated both of its top receivers in Terrish Webb and Titus Howard, its starting and backup quarterbacks (Armani Ford and Bryon Clifford) and, in Tyler Boyd, a player who is the No. 5 rusher and top touchdown producer in WPIAL history.
“We lost a whole team of starters,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said. “We lost a great group of skill people, and it's possible we can find some people to share time, but we're still looking all over the place.”
Coming up with replacements for what could arguably be one of the best teams in WPIAL history will be an arduous task. About the only positive is that those skill position players will be lining up behind one of the best lines in Class A, one that returns four starters, including tackles Will Hampton and Israel Melvin, along with Dryan Davenport and Vance Gibson.
Through the preseason, Clairton has used two quarterbacks — junior Ryan Williams and sophomore Aaron Mathews — but the position remains a work in progress. Williams may have the edge and could be the opening-night starter against Chartiers-Houston, while the versatile Mathews (6-foot-4) might provide a game-breaking target at wide receiver.
“Mathews is a basketball player, so he can jump up and get the ball,” Nola said. “They both throw about the same.”
Perhaps the main receiver will end up being 6-4 tight end Jojuan Bray, who also will anchor the team's defense in a defensive line/rover role.
“Jojuan Bray, he might be our best player on both sides of the ball,” Nola said. “He's starting at outside linebacker, and he should put big pressure on the quarterback, and he should provide a big target. He's our best overall player.”
Clairton did have a bit of turmoil in the offseason when coaches Jim Dumm and Tim Bukowski apparently left the program, but according to Nola, both will be with the team during the season.
Although Clairton is young and somewhat inexperienced at the skill positions, the goal has not changed. The Bears firmly believe they remain the team to beat in Class A and continually talk about the winning streak. The senior class never has lost a varsity game, and Clairton could become the first team to win six consecutive outright WPIAL titles in any classification.
“The streak does matter,” Nola said. “It matters now because it's their streak now, and it's on them to keep winning, and we still talk about it.”
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.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- Martin would consider extending stay with Pirates
- Neighbor in East Liberty sisters’ slayings may be part of murder-for-hire case
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc
- New Pirates pitcher Eppley brings special delivery to team’s staff
- Heyl: Men. Men! Men? Say it isn’t so, Chatham
- Qualifications of Peduto nominee for building inspection chief come up short