PIAA Class A Playoffs: Clairton vs. Berlin Brothersvalley

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Tyler Boyd, Titus Howard and Terrish Webb have all played vital roles on Clairton's football team, will all play Division I college football next season and have received loads of publicity this season.

But one of the other keys to Clairton's success has been Robert Boatright, an unsung hero who didn't become a starter until this season, but has been outstanding on defense.

If Boyd, Howard and Webb are the so-called Killer Ts, then Boatright is the Killer B.

Boatright is a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior who plays defensive end-linebacker. His story is one of patience and a willingness to wait his turn. While Clairton was running toward WPIAL and PIAA titles the past few seasons, Boatright couldn't crack the starting lineup.

Now he leads Clairton in tackles and had three sacks and 12 tackles in last Friday's WPIAL Class A championship game against Sto-Rox, won by Clairton, 58-21. Clairton (13-0) has won 60 games in a row and plays Berlin Brothersvalley in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal tonight at Somerset.

"Really, all year he's been good," Clairton coach Tom Nola said. "He doesn't get as much attention as those other three guys [Boyd, Howard and Webb], but he has really blossomed this year."

Some high school kids don't want to wait until their senior years to start. Some will walk away from the game, rather than wait. Not Boatright. His patience paid off and now everything is right with Boatright.

"He has always worked hard and now he's one of our leaders," Nola said. "He knew it was his time this year and he has stepped up."

Tonight, Boatright and his Clairton teammates will try to extend the longest winning streak in the country to 61 games. If the past few years are any indication, the Bears won't have any trouble against Berlin Brothersvalley, a small school located in Berlin in the central part of Somerset County.

Berlin Brothersvalley plays in District 5 and Clairton has played a District 5 team in the PIAA quarterfinals the past four seasons. None of those District 5 teams scored a point on Clairton. The Bears defeated North Star the past two seasons, 44-0 and 52-0, Conemaugh Township, 46-0, in 2009 and Windber, 26-0, in 2008.

Berlin Brothersvalley is 11-1 and won the District 5 championship last week by beating North Star, 14-6. Berlin Brothersvalley's only loss was to Windber.

Berlin Brothersvalley relies heavily on the running of Drew Glotfelty, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior who has rushed for 1,933 yards on 272 carries. Glotfelty has really carried the load in recent weeks, running for 648 yards in the past three games. In those games, he has carried the ball 35, 41 and 32 times.

Berlin Brothersvalley doesn't throw much as Blake Miller is 49 of 116 for 783 yards.

Although Clairton still has the pressure of the winning streak on its shoulders, Nola said there is a different feeling among the team this week. It's almost one of relief because last week the Bears set the state record for the longest winning streak.

"There is not as much attention now," Nola said. "We've had a lot of media attention recently. We had USA Today and the New York Times come in. There were all the local newspapers, radio and television, too. No one is around us now and it has made things more at ease, for sure."

Nola doesn't believe he will have to worry about a WPIAL championship hangover among the players, simply because they've been down this road so many times before. Clairton is trying for its fourth consecutive PIAA title.

"I think it's good we have had this little mental rest for a few days," Nola said. "Once the game starts, everyone will be ready.

"We talk about attitude all the time. The kids have a lot of confidence, but it's not overconfident. It's not a cocky attitude. It's just an attitude that's a good one."


Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com


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