WesternPAFootball Notebook: Playoff tidbitsWritten by: Josh Funk on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
Can you count to 60? Clairton has done it.
With its 58-21 victory over Sto-Rox in the WPIAL A championship game Friday, Clairton supplanted Central Bucks West for the state record for consecutive games won, with 60. The Bucks established the previous record of 59 between 1997-2000, and the mark stood for 12 years.
But Clairton blew past the record Friday, using a 36-point second half to pull away from upset-minded Sto-Rox and convincingly triumph over its latest opponent. With the victory, Clairton also notched its fifth consecutive WPIAL football championship, sixth in the last seven years and 10th championship in school history. The Bears are just the third WPIAL program with 10 or more WPIAL football championships – Aliquippa owns the record, with 15, and New Castle has 10.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did an outstanding four-part series on the Clairton Bears’ football program last week, with the fourth and final piece centering around the team’s 60th consecutive victory.
There’s also an allure with setting a record when the previous record holder has held on to it for a while. Seeing a record like the state’s career passing yardage record fall four times from 2005-12 loses its luster a little bit after the top slot changes hands so frequently. That’s just my opinion – one man’s opinion, mind you – but Clairton’s record for consecutive victories isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. And it may take decades before a team comes close to challenging that mark again.
Strath Haven and Southern Columbia each had 40-game winning streaks or more snapped during the early to mid-2000s. They were the closest any team came to CB West’s streak until Clairton.
If the Bears win out for the remainder of the 2012 season and claim a fourth straight PIAA football championship, it will mark their 63rd consecutive victory. Who knows how long the Bears’ streak will continue beyond this year – but one would figure the Bears have earned the benefit of the doubt against any WPIAL opponent they’ll face during the regular season and playoffs.
Not to sound outlandish, but the further Clairton’s streak progresses and grows, the more rarified the air becomes. There are only two known winning streaks of 100 games or more in this nation’s scholastic football history – Independence, S.C. won 109 in a row and De La Salle, Calif., won 151 in a row. The 151-game streak is the national record.
Like Jeannette’s 2007 team which scored 860 points, it’s pretty safe to figure Clairton’s winning streak record won’t be matched for some time.
Bellwood-Antis claimed its sixth District 6 football championship Saturday night in Altoona with a convincing rout of Bishop McCort, 54-3. The Blue Devils had many stars Saturday night, but one who struck me was Seth Worthing, a senior quarterback/defensive back with all kinds of speed and presence on the field.
With a gold medal around his neck as we walked off the Mansion Park turf, I asked Worthing what the district championship meant to him.
“It’s another step in my senior year and it’s another goal I have completed,” said Worthing, who plays three sports. Beyond football, he also plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring.
“It’s my goal to win a district (gold) medal in all three sports I play,” Worthing said, very businesslike.
What a goal. And when Worthing heard me say that, his response was even better.
“You’ve got to set your goals high so it means something when you accomplish them,” the Bellwood senior said.
District 10 AA champion Hickory is on the verge of a school record for total team points scored in a season. The Hornets have scored 489 points in 12 games, just five points shy of their high-water mark of 494 set last season. The Hornets are just 11 points away from the first-ever 500-point season in school history.
Senior back DeShawn Coleman, the focal point of the Hickory offense and a West Virginia recruit, surpassed 4,000 yards rushing for his career in the Hornets’ 39-7 victory over Wilmington Saturday. Coleman is up to 4,042 yards.
Karns City, champions of District 9 AA, won their second PIAA playoff game in school history with a 35-29 triumph over Chestnut Ridge, a District 5 team, Friday night. Karns City’s only other PIAA playoff victory had come at the hands of District 5, when the Gremlins defeated North Star, 32-14, in 2008.
West Allegheny’s Bob Palko won his sixth WPIAL AAA championship as a head coach with a 34-8 victory over West Mifflin Friday. Palko is on a short list of coaches who have won six WPIAL titles, which includes George Novak of Woodland Hills and Tom Nola of Clairton.
Aliquippa’s Mike Zmijanic and North Allegheny’s Art Walker each have five WPIAL championships in their careers as head coaches. Walker won a sixth title as the offensive coordinator of West Allegheny during the 1997 season.
Washington’s Mike Bosnic and Sto-Rox’ Dan Bradley each lost their initial WPIAL championship game debuts. West Mifflin’s Ray Braszo, meanwhile, remains winless after three WPIAL title game appearances with West Mifflin.
Another West Allegheny note – senior Nick Halbedl needs just 57 yards rushing Friday against Cathedral Prep to give the Indians four 700+-yard rushers for the season. In 2011, two District 10 teams – Strong Vincent and General McLane – each finished their respective seasons with four 700-yard rushers.
Richland is seeking its first PIAA playoff victory in school history when it faces Hickory in a AA quarterfinal game Saturday. The Rams, much like 2011’s D6 champion Tyrone, enjoy a balanced offense highlighted by an 1,800-yard passer in Matt Shaffer and a 1,790-yard rusher in Tanner Solarczyk. The Hornets, who last won a PIAA playoff game in 1989 in the AA state championship game against Montoursville, were eliminated, 40-28, by Tyrone last season, allowing four touchdown passes in the loss.
Berlin-Brothersvalley last appeared in the PIAA playoffs in 2004, falling to eventual PIAA finalist Rochester. Now, the Mountaineers, like that 2004 team, have won 11 games and the District 5 A championship, but face a Clairton team which has historically dominated D5 opposition in the quarterfinals.
Neutral sites are never truly “neutral”, and that disparity is very much evident in one PIAA quarterfinal game. Sharpsville and Port Allegany face off at Parkway Field at Bradford Area High School Friday night. Bradford is merely a handful of miles south of the Pennsylvania/New York state line in McKean County. Port is roughly 35 miles from Bradford. Sharpsville, located in western Mercer County, has a bus ride of longer than three hours for the game.
Last season, Sharpsville rallied from a 26-6 deficit to beat Port, 33-26. Sharpsville “hosted” the game at a District 10 site, and Port had the long bus ride.
District 9 has not defeated District 10 in a PIAA A quarterfinal game since 2007, when Kane edged Mercyhurst Prep, 12-7.
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