Clairton remains low-key while chasing crown
There wasn't much of a celebration on the field at N. Kerr Thompson Stadium after Clairton methodically, if a bit sloppily, defeated Sharpsville by 22 points in the PIAA Class A semifinals Friday at Slippery Rock University.
There were a few Hershey's bite-size chocolate bar wrappers strewn around the field, but for the most part their attitude was a low-key acceptance that the two-time defending state champions had expected to be making a trip to Hersheypark Stadium this week for a 1 p.m. Friday date with Southern Columbia in the PIAA Class A finals.
With the 30-8 win, Clairton (15-0) became the first WPIAL team in any classification to make it to the state finals four consecutive years and also tied Braddock for the all-time WPIAL record with 46 consecutive victories. In addition, the Bears are tied with national powerhouse Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey for the longest active winning streak in the nation and will pass the school for that honor with a victory.
And those are just some of the team records that could fall this week. There is one that will be set for sure that may never be broken when senior linebacker Carvan Thompson makes his 64th and final varsity start. With the PIAA in discussions to possibly shorten the football season by one week, it is a mark that might never be broken.
Setting a record is all well and good, but Clairton is looking forward to something else when it heads east this week.
"I was told (about the record) earlier in the season and I was real excited about that, and this is really good for me, my team and my community," Thompson said. "We're just used to winning. We don't like to lose, and the mindset in winning."
Thompson had a hand in Clairton's final touchdown that sealed the victory. He intercepted a tipped ball at the Bears' 18 and returned it to the Sharpsville 30 before he slowed to a snail's pace, turned his head from side to side and lateraled the ball to cornerback Terrish Webb, who scampered untouched the final 30 yards for the score with 5:55 remaining in regulation.
Though that touchdown helped Clairton keep another streak alive — the Bears have scored at least 30 points in 18 consecutive games since a 12-0 win over Rochester in the 2010 WPIAL Class A championship game at Heinz Field — this was the team's lowest point output of the season. They need to improve dramatically if they are to get past a well-coached Southern Columbia squad that holds state records for most appearances in the state finals (12), most consecutive appearances in the championship game (nine, 1998-2006) and most consecutive state titles (five, 2002-06) and is tied with Class AAA Berwick with six overall state championships.
"I expect to do better next week, and I want to break the record," Clairton junior running back Tyler Boyd said. "We're tied right now, (but's that's only) good for now."