WPIAL Class A Championship: Going bear hunting
Sto-Rox will need a big game from quarterback Lenny Williams if the Vikings want to upset Clairton. Williams has more than 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards this season.
Terrish Webb dives into the end zone for a score against Chartiers-Houston Aug. 31. The Bears won the first game of the season, 22-20, their closest matchup all year.
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Sto-Rox has won all three of its WPIAL playoff games by at least two touchdowns and averaged 35 points. But now, the Vikings have a meeting with a totally different animal.
The Bears are coming for breakfast.
Sto-Rox (11-1) takes on the mighty Clairton Bears (12-0) in the WPIAL Class A championship at 11 this morning at Heinz Field. While Sto-Rox has been impressive in the postseason, the Vikings also are realistic about the task at hand.
No one has caught a Bear in the WPIAL the past few years. Clairton is on a run never seen before in the WPIAL and hasn't lost a game since the 2009 season opener.
Clairton is on a 59-game winning streak, the current longest in the country and the longest in WPIAL history. A victory against Sto-Rox will break the state record for the longest winning streak. Central Bucks West, located near Philadelphia, won 59 in a row from 1997-2000. Clairton also is seeking its fifth consecutive WPIAL title.
"We've been playing well the past couple weeks," said Lenny Williams, Sto-Rox's star quarterback. "But we're going to have to play 10 times better than that. Just because it's the championship game -- and because it's Clairton."
Clairton coach Tom Nola is seeking his sixth WPIAL title while Sto-Rox coach Dan Bradley is in his first season.
Maybe Sto-Rox can gain some hope from looking at Clairton's season opener. The Bears beat Chartiers-Houston by only 22-20. Then again, Clairton was missing some players because of issues with academics and school attendance.
Since then, Clairton has defeated 11 opponents by at least 30 points. Clairton's defense is strong and the offense is loaded with big-play ability. One of the most surreal Clairton statistics is the team is averaging 11.2 yards per rushing attempt.
Maybe Sto-Rox can hope Clairton has never gone against a player such as Williams, a junior who is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the WPIAL in recent years. How many quarterbacks have been able to boast of a 2,000-1,000 season? Williams (6 feet, 190 pounds) has completed 120 of 205 passes for 2,131 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 1,086 yards on 132 attempts.
"I wouldn't say he worries us, but we definitely have to contain him," said Titus Howard, a Clairton senior receiver-defensive back.
Williams will face a Clairton defense that allows only 62 yards a game rushing and 60 passing.
"I'll have to play my best game," Williams said.
Clairton has numerous playmakers on offense. Tyler Boyd has more than 5,000 yards rushing for his career and is one of the best players in the state. A senior, Boyd has rushed for 1,979 yards this season and averages 13.4 yards per carry. He also has caught 25 passes for 560 yards.
Clairton doesn't throw often, but Boyd, Terrish Webb and Titus Howard have 63 receptions between them and are averaging 23.8 yards per catch. Boyd has numerous scholarship offers from Division I colleges, Howard is a Pitt recruit and Webb a Kent State recruit.
"You have to worry about [Boyd], but they're the Clairton Bears and not the Tyler Boyd Bears," said Williams, who also plays cornerback. "You have to worry about everyone on their team."
But Sto-Rox has had a Bear encounter before. These two teams met in last year's title game and Clairton romped to a 42-6 win, holding Sto-Rox to minus-28 yards rushing. It is a game Williams would like to forget, as he was 12 of 20 passing for 127 yards, but was intercepted four times.
"Playing them before just helps from the aspect of knowing we have to control the clock and we can't be making mistakes, like penalties or turnovers," Williams said. "All of that stuff counts against them because you give them a chance and they'll do something with it.
"Everyone seems ready for us. We understand that no one gives us a chance, but no one gave us a chance at the beginning of the year, either. People didn't think we'd be where we are now."
Clairton's Tyler Boyd is one of the most versatile players in the state. He now has 5,152 career yards rushing, good for 11th on the WPIAL all-time list. He has more than two dozen Division I college scholarship offers. ... Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams is a 2,000-1,000 guy. He has more than 2,000 yards passing this season and more than 1,000 rushing.
Tom Nola is in his 11th season at Clairton and has won five WPIAL championships. He also had two coaching stints at Serra that lasted a total of five years. ... Dan Bradley is in his first season at Sto-Rox after serving as an assistant coach. He also is the varsity boys basketball coach at Avonworth High School.
Clairton, which is riding a 59-game winning streak, is in a title game for the 18th time in school history. The Bears have won nine championships, including the past four in a row. ... This is the second consecutive season Sto-Rox has played Clairton in the title game. Sto-Rox has two WPIAL titles (1966 and 1987).
Clairton is on a championship roll, but in the 1980s Clairton kept losing in title games. The Bears lost three consecutive championship games from 1980-82. ...The 1989 Clairton team that won a title had quarterback Wayne Wade, who is now the team's defensive coordinator.
First Published November 23, 2012 12:00 am