South Xtra: Bears add to record win streak

Brad Everett's High School Football Notebook

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Clairton's winning streak might be historic, but it's not yet a thing of the past.

To keep the present streak alive -- it's up to 65 games -- the Bears have turned to their future.

Few people outside of the Clairton program likely knew of Aaron Mathews and Lamont Wade prior to this season, but the two have made their presence known quickly and represent the newest wave of big-time talent produced by the football factory that is Clairton.

Mathews is a sophomore. Wade is just a freshman.

"Those two young guys are our future," Clairton coach Tom Nola said.

The future appears bright. Mathews, a quarterback/wide receiver/safety, and Wade, a running back/cornerback, have been major contributors in Clairton's shutout wins against Chartiers-Houston, 35-0, and Carlynton, 41-0.

In the opener against Chartiers-Houston, Mathews passed for two touchdowns and was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from Wade, who also ran for a score.

Last week against Carlynton, Mathews rushed for a score, while Wade scored three touchdowns -- two on runs and the other on an interception return.

Mathews, who is 6 feet 5, waited his turn last season as he played behind so many veteran stars. He's been splitting time at quarterback with junior Ryan Williams. When he's not behind center, he's at wide receiver. As a freshman, Mathews was a key reserve on the Clairton basketball team that made it to the WPIAL Class A championship game.

"He has such good size and he's only a sophomore," Nola said. "He's gotten a lot faster and he makes things happen."

Wade, a cousin of Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne Wade, got a sideline view of the Bears' success the past two seasons while working as a team manager. Wade is only 14 years old, but he has a strong build and Nola said he has already been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"He's not a little, skinny freshman. He's built pretty good already as a ninth grader," Nola said. "He's been around us for a while. He knows how we do things. He wants to live it."

The success the Clairton program has had over the years really hit Nola when he attended the Pitt-Florida State game at Heinz Field last week. Five former Bears players -- Kevin Weatherspoon, Trenton Coles, Tyler Boyd, Titus Howard and Terrish Webb -- saw action for the Panthers in the nationally televised game.

"I was so proud," Nola said. "A little school like ours and we have five Division I players on the same team. All of them got in the game, too. I was really proud of that."

No place like home

Under coach Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson has been one of the WPIAL's premier programs for more than a decade. Since 2004 alone, the Jaguars are 111-14 and have won four WPIAL Class AAA championships and three PIAA championships.

One ingredient to the Jaguars' success has been that they are nearly unbeatable at home. In fact, the Jaguars won their 47th consecutive home game when they defeated Elizabeth Forward, 42-0, last week.

Cherpak was quick to remember who the previous loss was against when a reporter mentioned the streak to him after the game.

"Justin King," he recalled.

On Oct. 8, 2004, Thomas Jefferson dropped a 34-21 decision to Class AAAA Gateway in a non-conference game. King, who went on to play at Penn State and several seasons in the NFL, rushed for nearly 200 yards. Thomas Jefferson went on to win its first PIAA title that season and has not dropped a home game since.

"We take a lot of pride in our home games," Cherpak said. "We feel like this is our house. We can't let anyone come in and take anything away from us. We have a lot of pride in that. I don't know if the kids realize it, but that's a pretty good record."

Game Watch

McKeesport Area (2-0) at Norwin (0-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday -- McKeesport will give George Smith his 200th career coaching win should the Tigers get past Norwin in this Class AAAA Foothills Conference game. McKeesport and its flexbone rushing attack picked up an excellent non-conference win last week against Woodland Hills, 33-20. The Tigers rushed for 247 yards and Mikell Moore had two touchdown runs.



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