Fast, aggressive Clairton plans to stick to typical game plan against No. 7 Shenango
The Clairton football team has been downright offensive all season, and the Bears have no intention of changing.
Their potent offense seemingly has been putting up points faster than their defense can get on and off the field.
“We’re going to continue to go out and look to execute on offense,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “Whatever the (opposing) defense gives, we’re going to take it.”
The next exercise in a season of blowouts for Clairton is set for Friday night against Shenango in a WPIAL Class A quarterfinal-round game at Chartiers-Houston.
“Just like every other game,” Wade said, “we want to play fast and aggressive and try to get them to go three-and-out every time. It’s been our motto. If we can get a team to get on and off like that for four, five, six series in a row and give our offense opportunities to get into the end zone, before you know it, the game is over at halftime.”
Second-seeded Clairton (10-0), the Eastern Conference champion, has scored 672 points — the most of any Pennsylvania team this year — and has allowed just 36. The Bears’ offense ranks as the eighth-highest scoring unit in state history.
“When you watch them on film, you’re taken aback,” Shenango coach Mike Commesso said. “They are fast. It’s like you haven’t seen that type of team speed before, where so many guys run as fast as they do.”
Shenango (7-3), the seventh seed playing in its first postseason since 2006, has been outscoring its opponents by six points per game. Among the Wildcats’ three losses is a 49-16 decision to top-seeded Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in their final regular-season game.
But they bounced back last week to beat No. 10 Springdale, 35-7, in the first round of the playoffs as part of a 4-0 showing for Big Seven Conference schools.
No. 3 Neshannock and No. 5 Avonworth — the other teams to beat Shenango during the regular season — and No. 13 Riverside also advanced from the Big Seven.
“We’ve played a pretty grueling schedule so far, so we’re hoping that will help us for a team the caliber of Clairton,” Commesso said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s a daunting task, knowing they’ve only given up 36 points all year. But if we can hold onto the ball and move the sticks a few times, who knows?”
Junior running backs Tyler Root and Hunter Waskin have been at the center of Shenango’s offensive success, with Root averaging 11.2 yards per carry after finishing with 95 yards on 12 attempts against Springdale.
“Those two guys are equally dangerous,” Commesso said.
And while Shenango relies mainly on its ground game, Clairton’s attack comes from all angles. Sophomore running back Lamont Wade is averaging 17.0 yards per carry for the Bears, having gained 1,613 yards since taking over for the injured Harrison Dreher.
Wade, a sophomore, rushed for 269 yards and six touchdowns and senior quarterback Ryan Williams, who is closing in on 2,000 yards passing, rushed for 51 yards in Clairton’s 62-3 rout of No. 15 Chartiers-Houston in the first round.
Williams needs just 93 passing yards to reach 2,000 for the season. His favorite receivers have been 6-foot-5 junior Aaron Mathews (32 receptions, six touchdowns) and seniors James Hines (15 and four) and Raymone Clifford (10 and four).
“We’re going to have to be really good tacklers,” Commesso said. “That’s what we’ve been working on. We’ve been trying to get our guys to understand that if you let Clairton get to that second level, that’s when you get into some trouble.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].