As is typically the case these days, the turning point of Friday’s game at Neil Brown Stadium happened several minutes before kickoff, when the Clairton Bears (5-0, 5-0) took the field.
We don’t mean to troll Fort Cherry (2-3, 2-3), which took its turn to take its lumps in Week 5, but Tom Nola’s Bears, who have kept their WPIAL record going with 52 consecutive wins, continue to concoct different ways to impress us as they claw to within eight wins of a new PIAA record.
In a 65-0 rout of the Rangers in Black Hills Conference play, Clairton scored touchdowns on three of its first four offensive plays. Tyler Boyd continued to prove himself the LaVar Arrington–or, for younger audiences, the Terrelle Pryor–of western Pennsylvania’s 2013 senior class by racking up 200 all-purpose yards (well, 198, if you want to split hairs) on four plays.
To put this into perspective, in the game I attended last Friday, Central Valley versus West Allegheny, the two offenses combined for 282 net yards in the first half on 47 combined plays from scrimmage.
Oh, and yes, Boyd, ranked by MaxPreps as the No. 4 prospect in the nation at “wing” back (read: multi-purpose skill player), scored on all four plays.
At this point, it isn’t exactly fool’s gold, but I have predicted, on multiple occasions, Clairton will break the record. The exploits of Boyd–who has yet to pick a college, mind you–continue to make my point for me.
One of the many schools still on Boyd’s radar, at least as far as we can tell, is Pitt. Head coach Paul Chryst personally watched him tear apart Monessen, and last Friday I bumped into Chryst at Sarge Alberts Stadium; he was there to scout Central Valley senior athlete Robert Foster.
Foster did not disappoint, scoring twice, including an unconventional, but very Foster-esque, fake punt touchdown with seven minutes left in the second quarter, to help the Warriors (4-1, 4-1) rally for an important win over the Indians (4-1, 4-1).
If I’m Chryst, I make an early pitch to Central Valley sophomore tailback/defensive back Jordan Whitehead, who scored again in this game to give him eight total TD’s (Foster has nine), and had a defensive interception. I think there’s at least an outside chance he could be as good as, if not better than, Foster in the long run.
We all thought the Battle of the Brumbaughs would be much closer. With all due respect to Joe Rossi’s Lions, I, for one, would have laughed in the face of anyone who dared predict South Fayette would earn a running clock at Baldwin Stadium.
I’m not just talking about the 51-12 score, either. I’m talking about the 378-37 discrepancy in net passing yards by which sophomore Brett rose up and humbled senior Luke.
I keep trying to conceive how this Century Conference contest could have turned out this way. I guess the best possible explanation is that neither of these super signal-callers can be QB and wide receiver at the same time, so South Fayette senior and Pitt recruit Zach Challingsworth, who had nine catches for 135 yards and a score, is as valuable as everyone else says he is.
In fact, Brett threw to six different players. Three of them have at least ten receptions to their credit this year.
Older brother Christian Brumbaugh, the WPIAL record-holder for single-season and career passing yards, is a redshirt freshman at William & Mary. Brett already has 1,228 passing yards this season; if the Lions reach the Class AA state championship game, Brett, as of now, has a mathematical shot to break Christian’s record of 3,726.
In all probability, that will command everyone’s attention is actually a non-conference affair at Antimarino Stadium between Gateway and North Allegheny, which could be a preview of the district Quad-A final.
Among Class AAAA teams the Gators (5-0, 5-0) are ranked 12th in the state by MaxPreps, which has N.A. at No. 2 in the Commonwealth, and has also bumped up the Tigers (4-0, 5-0) in its latest Freeman (computer-based) Midwest Regional Rankings.
In addition, our brother website will profile this game later this week as one of its national top ten games of the week, and when you look at the college-capable talent on both sidelines, it probably deserves a few letters on the marquee.
Gateway quarterback Tom Woodson has committed to Arizona–ironically, having been courted by ex-Pitt coaches–and receiver Ricky Rogers, who transferred from Keystone Oaks in the off-season, has been offered by the new regime at Pitt. However, I’m told a more likely recruit for the Panthers might be receiver/DB Montae Nicholson, who has Pitt on his radar, along with several Big Ten schools, including Penn State.
Speaking of the Big Ten, N.A. lineman Pat Kugler will play there next fall when he suits up for Michigan. Earlier this week, fleet-footed QB Mack Leftwich committed to Stephen F. Austin, while receiver/DB Brandon Coniker has just signed with Richmond, another I-AA (FCS) program.
I suppose the only question is, will it live up to the billing? Or will we see another laugher like the one at Baldwin? Over two-thirds of all the games involving WPIAL teams last Friday were decided by more than two touchdowns.
My quick take: N.A. has a slight edge in offensive consistency and team toughness, but Gateway equals them in terms of balance. If tailback Andre Martin has a big night, the Gators have a shot. If the Tigers can push them around the way they do everyone else, they’ve got this.
By the way, as long as we’re thinking of Pitt prospects, did you hear about what Corey Clement did in south Jersey last Friday? If not, as a wise man once said, shame on you for six weeks.
Read this…and hope and pray he honors the off-season verbal commitment he gave the Panthers, if you’re a fan of the Blue-‘n-Gold.
(Man, and I thought Shell had big games in high school…)
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)