The Clairton Bears hope a certain idiom comes to fruition today when they face Dunmore in the PIAA Class A championship game.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Clairton (15-0) comes into the game at Hersheypark Stadium with the gigantic winning streak, but it's District 2 champion Dunmore (14-1) which enters the contest with a giant-sized group of linemen.
Dunmore, located just east of Scranton, presents a unique challenge for Clairton, which has won a state record 62 consecutive games and is trying to win its fourth PIAA championship in a row. The Bucks feature an offensive line that makes them look more like a Class AAAA team.
"It's definitely the biggest team we've faced," Clairton coach Tom Nola said. "They've got a lot of size. They've got a lot of big offensive linemen and some of those guys play defense, too."
Dunmore's offensive line consists of James McHale (6-7, 285), Mike Boland (6-5, 265), Dan Drewes (6-2, 250), Cory Jones (6-2, 195) and Jake Korgeski (5-11, 230).
That unit has paved the way for an explosive run game led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers -- Daiqwon Buckley (1,755 yards and 23 touchdowns) and Austin Seamon (1,295 yards and 17 touchdowns).
Clairton has done a terrific job stopping the run this season, but the size of its line doesn't compare to Dunmore's. The Bears counter with Damond Flowers (5-10, 190), Brandon Murphy (6-0, 200), Jordan Gressem (5-10, 215), Robert Boatright (5-10, 170) and Jujuan Bray (6-2, 175).
"Once we get into states, the lines keep on getting bigger and bigger," Clairton quarterback Armani Ford said.
As Ford sees it, bigger is not always better. He said his team's physical play will give the Bears the advantage.
"A lot of teams are big, but no one gets as physical as our guys get," Ford said. "[Dunmore is] big, but they're not real physical players."
The Bears are hoping to get back perhaps their top lineman, two-way tackle Devontae Harvey (6-0, 240), who has not played since injuring his right knee in the WPIAL championship.
Buckley and Seamon have both rushed for more than 3,000 yards in their careers and combined to run for 386 yards and six touchdowns in a 40-19 semifinal win against Bellwood-Antis.
"We're very fortunate to have two very good running backs, but a lot of credit should go to the offensive line," Dunmore coach Jack Henzes said.
Henzes is the second-winningest coach in Pennsylvania high school history. Henzes, who is in 46th season, has won 371 games.
Dunmore is in the PIAA championship game for the third time. The Bucks won the Class A title in 1989 and then lost to Terrelle Pryor and Jeannette in the Class AA final in 2007. Pryor was nearly unstoppable in that game, running for three touchdowns, passing for one, and he even had a touchdown catch.
Clairton star Tyler Boyd might not have Pryor's size, but Boyd's playmaking ability is similar to Pryor's, according to Henzes.
"He has all the qualities Terrelle had," Henzes said. "I don't know if [Boyd is] as big as [Pryor], but he has the same type of talent as the young man we played years ago. I've watched him on tape. That's what Terrelle did. He's so difficult to try to stop."
Boyd will try to make one lasting impression on his high school career. Boyd has rushed for 2,450 yards and 50 touchdowns this season. He has scored 117 career touchdowns, the most in WPIAL history.
If Boyd's past production in PIAA championship games is of any indication, he'll produce a sparkling effort once again. Last season, he ran for 218 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 78 and 68 yards in a 35-19 win against Southern Columbia.
Two years ago, he caught two touchdown passes as the Bears overcame a 24-point deficit to defeat Taylor Riverside, 36-30.
"It's a team sport, but without him the last two years, it might have been different," Nola said. "He was tremendous last year and the year before. We're probably going to need him do that again."
First Published December 14, 2012 5:00 AM