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EasternPAFootball.com - Your source for High School Football in Eastern PAEasternPAFootball.com - Your source for High School Football in Eastern PA
EasternPAFootball.com - Your source for High School Football in Eastern PAEasternPAFootball.com - Your source for High School Football in Eastern PA

PIAA “A” State Title Game – Clairton Preview

Written by: on Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

If only the WPIAL Class “A” schools could have as much success as their “AAAA” counterparts on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Western big schools have dominated in the state finals of late, but it’s been the complete opposite for Class “A” western schools, which have had to settle for state silver every year since 2002.

Clairton (15-0) will look to reverse that trend Friday afternoon in the Class “A” state title game when it takes on defending champion Steelton-Highspire (15-0) at Hersheypark Stadium.  Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

How bad has it gotten for WPIAL “A” schools, you ask?  Since Rochester defeated Southern Columbia 16-0 in 2001 (which is a distant memory right now), WPIAL schools are 0-4 in the state title game, having been outscored by a combined 150-40.

The other two western reps to fall victim to the East:  District 6’s Bishop Carroll (49-20 loss in 2003) and District 10’s West Middlesex (56-14 loss in 2006).  Factor in those two humbling defeats, and the West has been outscored a whopping 255-74 in the last six Class “A” title games.

There isn’t a Band-Aid large enough to cover that gaping wound which the East has just continually rubbed salt into.  The same question gets asked each and every year now: “Will anyone take down the East in Class ‘A’ in Hershey this year?”

Well, Clairton has a good chance.  That’s not a public relations move by this writer – Clairton has a team that is very much like a mirror of Steel-High in terms of speed and physicality.  And, they mix in just the right amount of flash and dash to make their offense work at peak efficiency.

The Bears, offensively, average 39.7 points per game, having topped 30 points or more 11 times this season.  Clairton’s season low for points scored in a game through the first nine weeks of the season was 37.

The orange and black is the highest-scoring team in the West this season, with 596 total points, and are the 5th-best point total in the state this year.

Clairton is led on the ground by running back Deontae Howard, who has run for 1,644 yards and scored 24 touchdowns this year.  Howard scored two touchdowns against Farrell and ran for over 70 yards in the game.  Quarterback Andrew Currington, who has been out for the past three weeks with a toe injury, chipped in 780 rushing yards and 14 scores.

In Currington’s absence, senior Troy Webb has stepped up, and filled in admirably.  Webb has, in the past three weeks, run for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns while throwing for 323 yards and three scores.  Webb quarterbacked the Bears’ 2006 WPIAL title team, which lost to West Middlesex in the PIAA semifinals.

Kevin Weatherspoon has been another big playmaker for the Bears, and his 54 catches for 1,445 yards and 25 total touchdowns are evidence of that.  Against Farrell, Weatherspoon caught six passes for 110 yards.

Defensively, Clairton has allowed 57 points all season, pitching eight shutouts.  14 of the Bears’ 15 opponents have scored no more than seven points – Farrell’s 21-point outburst accounted for 36.8 percent of the Bears’ total points allowed.

This is Clairton’s first state finals appearance in its school history.  In addition to the 2006 semifinals loss, Clairton had been handed a defeat one game away from the finals once before.  The Bears were upset by District 9’s Keystone Area 15-14 in 1989.  Keystone was defeated in the state title game by Dunmore one week later.

While Clairton hadn’t ever played (or won) a PIAA final despite winning 550 games and six WPIAL titles in its history – keep this in mind:  in addition to the Bears, 51 other schools in the 500-win club have never won a PIAA football championship, a list which includes such schools like Easton, Pottsville, Sharon, Altoona, Beaver Falls, and New Castle.

Is Clairton the team that will stop the West’s bleeding in the Class “A” state title game?

Find out Friday afternoon.

Clairton individual stats are from the WPIAL finals program and according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Sharon Herald game stories for Weeks 14-15.  PIAA playoff information is from the 2007 PIAA finals media guide.

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