High School

“Mr. High School Sports” – How Bout Dat? Boyd, Defense Dominate For Clairton

By Matt Popchock
Clairton with PIAA football trophy

(Photo credit: PCN)

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HERSHEY, P.A. (93-7 THE FAN) — Tyler Boyd, perhaps the most bountiful byproduct of his team’s historic journey, fell shy of the state record for career touchdowns. Commit that to memory, because it’s pretty much the only shortcoming of the Clairton Class of 2013.

A U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection, Boyd marched into Hershey Park Stadium and promptly went AWOL from the Dunmore defense for his only touchdown of the day–fittingly, the decisive one–and, in 20 attempts, bombed the Bucks for a game-high 117 yards on the ground.

What’s in a name? In this instance, everything.

He is the face of one of the most accomplished groups of seniors ever to play high school football in the Commonwealth, the No. 5 multi-purpose back in the country, according to MaxPreps and CBS Sports recruiting expert Tom Lemming.

He is the one largely responsible for popularizing “Bout Dat,” the team motto, which has let every vanquished opponent know…well, what they’re all about.

He will be remembered by the community he helped galvanize for his leadership on the field, and his gentlemanly conduct off it.

What’s in a number? Same thing.

Boyd ends his varsity career as the No. 5 rusher in WPIAL history, having amassed 5,755 yards, and his 117 all-time touchdowns exceed a record set just a year ago by Hopewell/Pitt tailback Rushel Shell.

Boyd accounted for 326 of the 720 total points produced by the Bears, who became the third team to win four PIAA football championships in a row, and the first WPIAL representative to string together that many.

Boyd has captained a team that, at 63 consecutive games, still owns the longest active winning streak in America, and the longest in Pennsylvania history, and has given the WPIAL its 34th state football title ever, becoming the 11th WPIAL Class A team to earn one.

But see, then there’s that other number. Oh, you know the one I’m talking about: zero.

As lucky as Paul Chyrst would be to have No. 23 in orange don blue and gold (and, if he sees fit, red as well), every ounce of credit to him or to his head coach, Tom Nola, and his amazing staff, should be shared with the defense, which posted its sixth shutout of the year Friday.

In the western half of the PIAA, Clairton was the least scored-upon team in the entire postseason, allowing just 6.5 points per game. Statistically, they were not as stubborn as the 2011 squad, which conceded just 78 total points, or their 2010 brethren, who allowed just 34 prior to a 36-30 win over upset-minded Taylor Riverside in the PIAA Final.

However, the 108 total points allowed by the 2012 team includes a 22-20 nail-biter over Chartiers-Houston on opening night, in which a number of regulars were missing for retroactive academic/disciplinary reasons. Furthermore, they were aligned before the season into, without question, the most competitive incarnation of the Black Hills Conference they have seen since the streak began.

It didn’t matter. Clairton, playing the toughest schedule of its reign, gave up a mere 62 points in season-long conference play

Not to make light of their plight, but the Bucks should have been proud to be down just 14-0 through three quarters. Their own valiant defensive effort, which kept them alive, was out-shined only by what has been the most fearsome D in PIAA Class A these last four seasons.

Dunmore was held to 115 offensive yards, and had only posted 82 in all through those first 36 minutes. It only managed six first downs the entire afternoon, and possessed the ball for just 17:37 before bowing to the Bears by the final 20-0 margin.

63 wins. Thirty-three shutouts.

No WPIAL football team has ever won six district championships in a row. Only Southern Columbia, a dragon slayed by this team last fall, has won five PIAA titles consecutively. Despite the awesome and untouchable legacy Boyd’s successors have to live up to, next year they will be favorites to do so.

Why? As Nola is usually the first to admit, it’s all about the kids.

The Bears haven’t just made history because of raw talent. They’ve made it because of attitude. The streak lives on because nobody who puts on that uniform wants to be remembered as the one who let it die.

Start preparing now, Class A. The distance between your haves and have-nots may eventually diminish, but we’ve got a feeling Clairton is in it for the long haul.

Here’s one more number: The national record for longest win streak is still a staggering 88 games away.

It seems unimaginable. Heck, even Nola laughed about it when asked at Heinz Field Nov. 23. Then again, once upon a time, Nola stood proudly on the North Shore, twelve weeks removed from that pivotal loss to Laurel, when 63 seemed unimaginable.

How bout dat?

(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)

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