Leechburg looking for elusive win over Clairton

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | 6:40 PM


During Leechburg’s recent football revival, one of the must-do items is to beat Clairton.

The Blue Devils will have a chance to check that item off their list Friday when they travel to Neil Brown Stadium to face the Bears.

Leechburg is 0-27-1 against Clairton, claiming a 6-6 tie in 1991. But this is a different Leechburg program, coming off three consecutive shutout wins.

“We’ve got to go down there and match their intensity. If we don’t, we’ll lose by 40,” Blue Devils coach Randy Walters said. “If we do match their intensity, it’ll turn into a war.”

Clairton won its first game of the season at Riverview on Saturday after three losses, marking the first time in more than 40 years that Clairton has started 0-3. But that 0-3 is deceiving. The losses were to Westinghouse, the top City League team, Washington, No. 2 in Class 2A, and OLSH, the top Class A team.

“It’s (Eastern) conference play, and now it counts,” Bears coach Wayne Wade said. “We’re preparing now for Leechburg. They have a couple kids on the team that are some athletes, and they’re winning some games. They have a Division I athlete in (Braylan) Lovelace. They’re coming to our place in Clairton, and we’ll be ready to play.”

Both teams are led by veteran players such as Lovelace and Clairton senior quarterback Capone Jones.

But both teams also are utilizing underclassmen. Leechburg quarterback Jayden Floyd is playing well as a sophomore, replacing Thomas Burke from last year’s team, and fellow 10th grader Jake Cummings has replaced Eli Rich as a tight end and at linebacker and has good football instincts.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I’m really happy to be part of this team,” Cummings said. “You just don’t think, be physical on the field and play hard.”

Though Leechburg set a school record for points in a game last week with 77, it’s the Blue Devils defense that’s grabbing the headlines with the three consecutive shutouts.

“It’s been great,” Cummings said. “Our defensive coordinator, JohnAllen Snyder, has helped us out a lot, and I feel Clairton is a great opportunity and we should cherish this moment.”

Walters readily credits his assistants.

“I’ve been saying since they got here that coach Snyder and coach (Ryan) Lightcap do such a great job with the defense,” he said. “The kids are believing in what we’re trying to do. It’s really important that we stress when the others guys go in, we’ve got a shutout, we want to keep a shutout and play the game the right way. The kids have taken a lot of pride in it.”

To keep that streak going, Leechburg will have to stop some of Clairton’s newest stars: freshman running back Donte Wright, who ran for two touchdowns and a pair of 2-point conversions against Riverview, and freshman receiver Michael Ruffing, who scored two touchdowns and secured a 2-point conversion pass.

Clairton’s offense against Riverview was a model of efficiency, scoring seven touchdowns in 27 plays from scrimmage.

Neil Brown Stadium is named after the Clairton coach who led the Bears to the 1954 WPIAL Class 3A title and runner-up finishes in 1957 and ’58. He also piloted Har-Brack to the 1947 title game.

Putting up zeroes

Leechburg has shut out three straight opponents for the first time in 67 years.

1955

Oct. 7 Leechburg 33, Apollo 0

Oct. 14 Leechburg 13, Tarentum 0

Oct. 21 Leechburg 25, Kittanning 0

2022

Sept. 3 Leechburg 69, Summit Academy 0

Sept. 9 Leechburg 56, Bentworth 0

Sept. 16 Leechburg 77, Springdale 0

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