Clairton leans on its ‘Stars’
Clairton quarterback Capri Thompson sometimes gets lost in the shuffle because of the dynamic play of junior running back Tyler Boyd.
When the Bears needed the senior signal-caller, though, he showed North Star that he’s just as formidable an offensive weapon as his backfield mate.
Thompson threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third to lead Clairton (14-0) to its 45th consecutive victory with a 44-0 victory over North Star (10-2) in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals at Yough High School’s Cougar Mountain. The Bears have now followed their WPIAL championship by beating the District 5 champion in each of the last four years and have outscored those four opponents 168-0.
“We planned from the beginning that we would throw a little bit, and he was on target,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said. “He threw some good passes.”
Thompson only threw four times but he made them all count as he completed three for 136 yards and the two scores, one a 39-yarder to Trenton Coles and the other a 70-yard strike to Terrish Webb. Thompson had three carries for 12 yards and the other score, a 7-yard run which helped Clairton to a 37-0 lead at the intermission.
Though Thompson certainly helped Clairton to its 19th consecutive postseason victory, Boyd was the catalyst for the romp. He broke off an 87-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ first offensive play and finished the night with seven carries for 175 yards, two scores and a pair of two-point conversions.
“(On the first run) I set the tone once again, and I always set the tone,” Boyd said. “It’s good for me to do that for the team so that everybody can get into the game and play a little harder.”
Though Clairton did have a running clock to start the second half, this was an atypical performance by a defense that had allowed only 51 points in its first 13 games. North Star was able to break off several big gainers in the first half and ran 24 of their 46 plays in Bears territory.
Part of that was the tenacity of North Star senior quarterback Max Strasiser, who eluded the rush on several occasions and reeled off runs of 20 and 25 yards in the first half and finished with 112 yards from scrimmage.
“They have a couple of good players, and that quarterback is tough,” Nola said. “We hit him and hit him and hit him and he kept coming back. He’s good, but we played them last year, and we knew what to expect.”
In addition, the Cougars picked up 112 yards on the ground in the first two quarters — as compared to the minus-28 Clairton held Sto-Rox to in the WPIAL Class A championship game at Heinz Field last week — and seven of those plays went for 10 yards or more. North Star also drove the ball deep into Bears territory, including a first-and-goal at the Clairton 9 on its third possession, but turned the ball over on downs four times in the Bears end of the field and punted on another.
“I said when we were coming into this game that, if we didn’t score on the first drive it was going to be real tough,” Strasiser said. “We moved the ball all game, but they’re a phenomenal team, extremely fast and…even if we do score there, it would have been hard to pull that one out.”