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Sto-Rox QB chasing WPIAL title, passing record

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Sto-Rox receiver Mallory Claybourne catches a pass at practice Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in McKees Rocks.

Someday, Sto-Rox football players will tell tales about their championship clashes with the dynastic Clairton Bears. After losses to Clairton in the WPIAL Class A title game the past two years, though, the Vikings are hoping 2013 brings with it a victory story.

Coach Dan Bradley stopped short of calling the losses — which came by 42-6 and 58-21 margins in 2011 and '12, respectively — motivating factors for this season. But now that his team has played on the mammoth Heinz Field stage in consecutive seasons, he said he believes the experience can help them bridge the gap between contending for and winning a title.

“It's always tough to end the season on a loss, and the further you go in the playoffs, the harder it is to absorb that loss,” Bradley said. “But we're anxious to get this season under way.”

Once they do, they'll use the same formula that's helped them win 23 of their past 26 games: Follow Lenny Williams.

The senior quarterback, who threw for 2,237 yards last season, could challenge the WPIAL's all-time record for passing yardage, a milestone he's openly shooting for.

“I was never much of a personal stat person,” said Williams, who has 5,632 career yards and is chasing South Fayette grad Christian Brumbaugh's record of 7,164. “But this is a big thing, so to be able to get that would be big for me and my team, so I'm definitely going to try and get it.”

However, a hand injury could cause him to miss a couple weeks.

If Bradley has his way, though, Williams will make his presence felt not only in the passing game but also the running game.

The coach noted his signal caller has a tendency to hold onto the ball despite possessing the athleticism to scramble a bit more, so he's encouraging Williams to look for open space when designed passing plays break down.

“I'd like to see him run a little bit more when the third or fourth guy isn't open,” Bradley said.

Williams said film study in the offseason revealed numerous situations where running lanes were open last year. Though he likes to make the big plays, he said he believes recognizing the medium gains when they present themselves will be important.

“This year, I'm going to try to be way smarter in everything,” Williams said. “If it's easier for me to just pick up 15 yards instead of throwing 70 yards down field, I don't have a problem with that.”

But when throwing, senior wideout Mallory Claybourne, a transfer from Perry, will be among Williams' top targets.

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