Clairton's streak stays intact
Late in the first quarter, supposedly vulnerable Clairton already had taken a three-touchdown lead, silencing talk that the team's youth would lead to the nation's longest winning streak coming to an end.
“Looks like Clairton to me,” Clairton assistant coach Eric Fusco shouted from the sideline.
Looks like Clairton to everyone else, too.
The four-time defending PIAA Class A champions raced to an early lead and easily handled Chartiers-Houston, 35-0, at Neil C. Brown Stadium. This marks Clairton's 64th consecutive victory, 34 of which have come via shutout.
“I know they're a different team now, and they're really young,” Chartiers-Houston coach Terry Fetsko said. “But still, who's going to beat them? I'm not sure anyone will.”
A couple of young Clairton players lived up to their hype. Sophomore Aaron Mathews stood above the rest.
The 6-foot-5 standout threw a pair of 30-yard touchdowns and caught a 30-yard score. He also rushed for 59 yards while splitting time with Ryan Williams at quarterback.
“He's just a heck of a player,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said. “You could see tonight, he probably could have thrown, rushed and caught 100 yards each. He's just that kind of player.”
Clairton has a funny way of always producing that kind of player.
And Mathews isn't alone. Although he was likely the game's best player, another youngster was impressive.
Freshman Lamont Wade played shutdown corner, rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown and threw for a touchdown pass.
The cousin of defensive coordinator Wayne Wade clearly wasn't rattled by the stage.
“Not at all,” Nola said. “He's really going to be a good player for us. He'll keep getting better.”
Clairton wasted little time in taking control.
After forcing a punt, Clairton struck for its first touchdown when Mathews found JoJuan Bray for a 30-yard strike. Bray is Clairton's only senior starter.
“And he's an important player for us,” Nola said. “Very important.”
Clairton recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and needed only one play to score again, as Bray scored on a reverse from 22 yards.
Mathews hit Williams, who normally plays quarterback, for a 30-yard scoring strike later in the half.
Clairton recovered two fumbles in the first half, and Wade's 13-yard touchdown run made it 29-0 before halftime.
“I actually thought we did some things well,” Fetsko said. “But they're still going to do some things that are tough to stop. That team speed of Clairton's is always there.”
The last time the Bears lost came in Week 1 in 2009 against Laurel. They looked shaky in last season's Week 1, holding on for a 22-20 victory.
Of course, they played without a number of ineligible players on that night.
Nola was pleased to have a complete squad for this game and was even happier to see how well his Bears played.
For the first game of the season, Clairton looked fairly crisp.
“It wasn't perfect, but I really am very happy with how we played,” Nola said.
Clairton's defense recorded three sacks and produced nine plays that resulted in negative yardage.
“Our defense really looked good,” Nola said. “The whole team did, really.”
Note: Former Clairton star Tyler Boyd, who will start at wide receiver as a freshman for Pitt on Monday against Florida State, attended the game.