WPIAL Class A semifinal preview: Clairton vs. Sto-Rox
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Class A semifinals
NO. 1 STO-ROX (11-0)vs. NO. 4 CLAIRTON (10-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers-Houston
Well, what do you know? Clairton and Sto-Rox won't be playing in the WPIAL Class A championship game.
After facing each other for the title the past two seasons, they'll meet this time in the semifinals.
That's not all that's different in this intriguing rivalry. Fourth-seeded Clairton isn't undefeated, like it was the past two years, when it went on to win its third and fourth consecutive PIAA titles, only the third team in Pennsylvania history to claim four in a row.
“As coaches, we've had to coach more and coach harder, and they've accepted it,” said Clairton coach Tom Nola, whose team graduated a number of standouts from the past title teams.
Clairton, appearing in the WPIAL Class A semifinals for an eighth consecutive season, saw its state-record 66-game winning streak halted against Monessen.
“We're a little bit younger, and it's a challenge for us,” Nola said.
Sto-Rox, not Clairton, is the top seed in Class A. It also is the team with the Division I prospects. At the top of the list is QB Lenny Williams, who's passed for more than 8,000 career yards, the most in WPIAL history.
Receiver Mallory Claybourne and RB Brendan Blair, among others, have given Williams some great support.
“We really don't talk about what happened last year,” Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley said, referring to Clairton's 58-21 win over the Vikings at Heinz Field in the WPIAL championship game. “They were the better team ... we felt we had a better team than what we showed. But that's in the past and we're playing for the present now.”
Clairton also defeated Sto-Rox, 42-6, for the 2011 title.
— Dave Mackall
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