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Gorman: This Avella streak is no pigskin punchline

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 11:03 p.m.

Now that Clairton finally has been beaten, the longest active winning streak in the WPIAL belongs to ...

You won't believe this.

The Avella Eagles.

Seriously.

Once a pigskin punchline, Avella has won five straight games, dating to a Week 10 win over Bentworth last season. That's one more than anyone else in the WPIAL.

“That's something,” Avella coach Ryan Cecchini said, with a laugh. “It's great and we love hearing that, but it's only five games. It's not like we've built something like Clairton.”

Not quite. The Bears broke Braddock's 51-year-old WPIAL record for consecutive victories, as well as Central Bucks West's 12-year-old state record.

When Clairton reached 66 straight wins, it owned the longest active win streak in the nation and 10th all-time.

Shortly after Monessen beat Clairton, 42-24, last Friday night, Avella learned of its sudden status on the MSA Sports radio show.

“All the kids had a good laugh,” Cecchini said. “They can always say, ‘Hey, we had the longest winning streak in the WPIAL.' ”

One that should extend to six games when the Eagles (4-0) play Geibel Catholic (0-4), which is allowing an average of 45.8 points.

Which should provide a glimmer of hope for Geibel, if you can believe it.

After all, Avella endured a 27-game losing streak from 2006-09.

Its turnaround can be traced to an 84-0 loss to Clairton in September 2011.

After winning only four games in eight years, Avella started 5-0 last season but missed the playoffs.

“Pretty much these last two seasons were born out of that game,” Cecchini said. “It was basically just a JV team against that Clairton powerhouse.

“After that, we realized we have to lift in the offseason and play seven-on-seven — that we have to work at this. We can't just show up three months a year. If we can get through 84-0, we can get through anything.”

Now Avella can count its comparisons to Clairton. Both have had their stories chronicled by The New York Times, and experienced WPIAL-best win streaks.

“We share a lot of history together,” Cecchini said. “It's weird because the two schools are polar opposites. They're an inner-city school and we're out in the sticks. Clairton lived on football and we had to scratch and claw to keep our team.

“Even being mentioned in the same breath as Clairton is an honor.”

One Avella will accept, for however long it lasts.

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