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High School

“Mr. High School Sports” – Clairton, McDevitt Return to PIAA Finals

Clairton handshake

Clairton shakes hands with Sharpsville after defeating the Blue Devils for its record-tying 46th straight win. (Photo credit: KDKA)

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By Matt Popchock

(mpopchock@kdka.com)

One WPIAL football team successfully continued its pursuit of history Friday night, while another, unfortunately, is history.

Four-time Class A champ Clairton pulled away from District 10 champion Sharpsville 30-8 at Slippery Rock University’s Mihalik-Thompson Stadium for its 46th win in a row, which ties the WPIAL record set by Braddock from 1955 through 1960.

The Blue Devils (13-1) tied the game 8-8 late in what was a sloppy first half for both teams before running back Tyler Boyd cut through the left flat and pulled in a Capri Thompson pass in stride, then raced down the near sideline for a 70-yard score to put the Bears (15-0) ahead to stay with 1:34 remaining in the second quarter.

Boyd, the overall scoring leader of District 7, accounted for all three offensive touchdowns, with Clairton’s final points coming on a 30-yard run by defensive back Terrish Webb via lateral from Carvan Thompson during a fourth-quarter interception return.

Capri Thompson suffered a sprain ankle during a gadget play in that period, but head coach Tom Nola told the Post-Gazette he expects his quarterback to be fine for next week’s PIAA Class A Final.

That game will kick off this approaching Friday at 1:00 P.M. at Hersheypark Stadium, as Clairton has earned a much-anticipated meeting with Southern Columbia (14-1) of District 4. If the Bears win they will not only take home three consecutive state crowns, but they will also have the longest active high school football winning streak in the nation.

It’s a nice marquee matchup of two of Pennsylvania’s most dominant Class A programs since the turn of the century. The Tigers, who won five straight PIAA championships 2002-06, will be going for their seventh all-time.

Meanwhile, WPIAL Class AAA champion Montour was denied entrance to its first-ever state championship game; instead, the 2011 PIAA Class AAA Final will match 2010 finalist Bishop McDevitt opposite 2008 finalist Archbishop Wood.

Last week the Spartans (12-3) erased a 21-0 deficit with 25 unanswered points to squeak by Grove City. On Friday they saw their fortunes reversed, as Bishop McDevitt racked up 27 unanswered points en route to a 41-32 win at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.

Defensive end and Gatorade PA Player of the Year Noah Spence was disruptive early in the game, but Montour’s offense eventually punched holes in a defensive unit that mirrored its own in terms of Division I talent. Dillon Buechel completed 11 of his first 15 attempts for 215 yards and two TD’s, and Kent State recruit Julian Durden ran for 97 yards and two scores on his first 18 carries to give the Spartans a 26-20 halftime edge in a first half that saw four lead changes.

However, Spence and his mates roughed them up, especially Buechel, in the second half, and intercepted the D-1 prospect three times after the break. He was held to just over 100 yards passing in the half, and Durden was held just under 100 yards…for the game.

The Crusaders (13-2) fed off that momentum offensively, racking up three third-quarter touchdowns in a 6:34 span. Alec Werner, who finished 17 of 25 for 216 yards and three touchdowns, found Andre Robinson for his second score of the game, then Darnell Holland added a pair of short touchdown runs to give McDevitt a 41-26 lead.

Devin Wilson ended the night with 91 yards receiving, though he did also drop a key fourth-down pass early in the fourth quarter, and fellow receiver Darren Massey put up even bigger numbers; his 200 yards is a new PIAA Class AAA Playoff record.

(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)