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Talented Port Allegany quarterback to test Clairton defense

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 11:39 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr.| Tribune Review Clairton running back Tyler Boyd watches as the team medical staff tends to Titus Howard after receiving an arm injury in the second quarter of the PIAA playoff game against Berlin Friday, November 30, 2012

Titus Howard has spent a lot of time watching Clairton football games, usually after the starters were pulled during a Bears blowout.

This week will be different as Howard, a Pitt recruit, has been ruled out because of a dislocated left elbow he suffered in the team's 61st straight victory, a 53-0 romp over District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals.

“It's getting better and it's healing good, but I went to the doctors and they said I was definitely out this week,” Howard said. “It's going to be frustrating because I haven't watched a high school game at Clairton when I haven't been in it.”

And this is the game that Howard, and every other defensive back on the team for that matter, has been looking toward. Clairton (14-0) will take on District 9 champion Port Allegany (13-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Deer Lakes. The Gators feature senior quarterback Matt Bodamer, who earlier this season became the most prolific passer in state history as he eclipsed the previous state record of 9,752 yards set by Brockway's Derek Buganza from 2007-10. He also has rushed for a team-leading 832 yards and 13 TDs.

Bodamer has 10,755 career passing yards, a state record 136 touchdowns and is just 67 yards away from breaking Buganza's single-season state record of 3,824 yards set in 2009. He is just one touchdown pass away from tying the state record of 52 set by South Fayette alumnus Christian Brumbaugh in 2010.

Without Howard, the still-uber talented defensive backfield will lean on Kent State recruit Terrish Webb and safety Tyler Boyd, as well as and speedster Bryon Clifford.

“They have speed galore and they are so fast and so athletic,” said Port Allegheny coach Michael Bodamer, the quarterback's father. “Most high school teams, you may have three or four kids that you have to get past, but they have 11, they all just fly to the ball. The one thing I noticed on tape was they're all good tacklers, and they don't seem to miss any type of tackle.”

Teams have attempted to spread Clairton out and run a four-wide, no-huddle offense. The last to try it was Sto-Rox in the WPIAL Class A championship game, where the Bears shrugged off a 7-6 deficit for a 58-21 victory.

“Their defensive backs are so talented that they just come up in press coverage at the line of scrimmage, and they can, basically, run with anybody,” Michael Bodamer said. “That's going to be a big challenge for us offensively and then they bring so much pressure that we have to be quick if we can find anybody open.”

Port Allegany has to figure out a way to stop Boyd, who last week became the WPIAL's all-time scoring leader with his 114th career touchdown. He needs 10 to break the state record set by Bryan Bellas of Bishop O'Reilly in Wilkes-Barre from 1995-98.

“You just have to be aware of him and get a really good, solid hit on him,” Michael Bodamer said. “You have to try to contain him between the tackles and kind of brace him in because, once he gets to the edge by himself, it's almost impossible to stop him.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1977.

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