WPIAL “A” Championship Preview
Written by: Josh Funk on Wednesday, November 19th, 2008
The Game: Monaca (7 A) @ Clairton (7 A)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 22nd, 2008, from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh
2008 Record: Monaca (11-1), Clairton (12-0)
About the WPIAL “A” championship: 2008 marks the second consecutive year the class “A” championship game has featured a team that has scored more than 500 points. Last year, Serra Catholic entered Heinz Field with an impressive 597 points scored, a 49.8 points per game average.
This year, that title belongs to Clairton, which is becoming a consistent offensive juggernaut in the WPIAL. It’s the fourth time in the last five years the Bears have scored at least 475 points, and the 534 points (44.5 pts./gm avg.) scored this year are a school record.
Clairton is the #1-scoring team in the West this year, and 5th-best scoring team in the state. The second-best scoring team in the West is from District 6.
The Bears haven’t had trouble scoring points thanks in large part to a trio of talented playmakers, two of which are juniors, and all of which should at least receive some consideration for All-state nominations at the end of the season.
Quarterback Andrew Currington has thrown for over 1,700 yards, and his favorite target, Kevin Weatherspoon, has racked up close to 1,300 receiving yards and has scored over 150 points this year. Rounding out the trio is Deontae Howard, a 1,300-yard rusher who has also scored over 100 points this season.
Having multiple 100-point scorers on an offense is impressive, but it’s not that rare – last season alone, Jeannette, Thomas Jefferson, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Serra Catholic, and West Catholic had at least two 100-point scorers on their teams (Serra Catholic, impressively, had a trio of 100-point scorers – something very rarely seen at the Class A level).
Clairton, though, has played very stout defense this season. Sure, the Bears played in the Black Hills Conference, and had little trouble running through the regular season, but no opponent has yet to top seven points against the Bears. Clairton has tossed seven shutouts, and has allowed a grand total of 29 points in 12 games, which leads the entire state.
The Bears have won five WPIAL titles, the last coming in 2006. Clairton lost to Monaca, 14-12, in the 1982 “A” title game.
Monaca, though, does have something in common with Clairton – a shutout of Rochester. The Indians’ 17-0 victory in Week 9 appeared to be a shocker – Rochester was one of the top-ranked teams in the state at the time, and was the #1 class “A” school in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s rankings.
More impressively, the Indians have made the run without starting quarterback Brandon Gaydosh, who is out for the season with a broken leg. The game in which Gaydosh was injured, the Western Beaver game, was Monaca’s only loss this season.
And Monaca, currently on a nine-game winning streak, boasts a stat no other WPIAL finals qualifier can – it has both won and lost a game via the shutout this year.
The Indians run an option-oriented offense, led by senior Tony Reda, who has run for over 1,000 yards and thrown for nearly 400 more. Backs Skyler Schultz and Zach Garber have run for more than 850 and 770 yards, respectively.
Monaca does have a potent offense. Despite only topping the 30 point plateau five times, four of those occurrences saw Monaca score 40+ points. In three playoff games, the Indians have scored 121 points, an average of over 40 points per game.
Defensively, only one opponent, Carmichaels, has topped the 20-point mark against the Monaca defense, and that came in a 56-22 loss. The Indians have also pitched three shutouts.
Monaca is making its seventh WPIAL title game appearance since 1982. Monaca has won three WPIAL titles in its history, the last coming in 1985.
The Indians, though, have lost their last four WPIAL title game appearances to Wilmington (1987), Rochester (1998), South Side Beaver (1999), and Rochester (2000), by a combined margin of 72-45. None of the four losses, however, were worse than a seven-point margin.
Kickoff of the WPIAL “A” championship game is slated for 10:30 a.m.
Clairton and Monaca individual stats are according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Clairton and Monaca team stats are from Maxpreps.com & WesternPAFootball.net.
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