After ‘unbelievable’ win against Clairton, Jeannette must turn focus to next opponent

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Sunday, November 15, 2020 | 8:09 PM


It took a day, but Jeannette football coach Roy Hall started to recognize what his team accomplished Saturday in the WPIAL Class A championship game.

What Jeannette did to Clairton is something the Bears usually do to opponents: The Jayhawks smashed them.

Jeannette (9-1) took advantage of six Clairton turnovers and ran over the Bears, 45-14, to claim the school’s tenth WPIAL title at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium.

After the game, Hall said it was too early to feel the impact of the victory.

“That was the Clairton Bears, and it hasn’t sunk in yet,” Hall said. “Hopefully, it will. To beat the Clairton Bears is one thing, but to beat them that way is unbelievable.”

It was reported to be the first time a team enforced the mercy rule — a running clock when leading by 35 or more points in the second half — against Clairton since the PIAA adopted the rule in 1998.

Jeannette’s defense played a major role.

The Jayhawks got a fumble return and a blocked punt return by sophomore Jaydin Canady. Canady, Roberto Smith Jr. and Toby Cline intercepted passes. Cline and Smith Jr. recovered fumbles, and the defense sacked Clairton quarterback Jonte Sanders four times.

The Jayhawks defense also limited Clairton’s running game to 54 yards. It didn’t help the Bears that standout running back Dontae Sanders was injured in the first quarter and did not return.

“The defense played great,” Hall said. “We executed the gameplan well.”

This is the fourth time Jeannette has qualified for the PIAA tournament. It was state champions in 2007 and ‘17 and runner-up in ‘06.

Now Jeannette must get ready for another power running team in District 10 champion Reynolds, which is known for being a wrestling powerhouse.

The game is 7 p.m. Friday and will be played on the grass at Reynolds, which is located in Transfer, north of Sharon.

Reynolds (9-0) is coming off a 19-14 victory against District 9 champion Redbank Valley. It outrushed Redbank Valley, 234-63. This is the second time Reynolds has reached the PIAA semifinals. It lost to South Park, 28-2, in 2005.

Cole Toy, a wrestler, is Reynolds’ top running back, rushing for more than 1,238 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has nine 100-yard games, including 131 yards against Redbank Valley.

Reynolds defense has forced 27 turnovers, and it is a plus-19 on the season.

“They’re a big team,” Hall said. “We’ll have to study what they like to do and set up a gameplan.”

Hall is not certain about the availability of freshman quarterback Brad Birch, who injured his left ankle in the third quarter. Birch said he would be OK, but Hall said he will find out more Monday after Birch gets an X-ray.

Hall plans to prepare as if Birch won’t be available.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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