WPIAL Football Team of the Week: Week 12
Monday, November 18, 2019 | 6:55 PM
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Panthers football teams only wish they had this kind of ‘home-field’ advantage.
Saturday marked the 19th season the WPIAL has staged four of its football championships at Heinz Field.
With its win Saturday, Clairton has improved to 9-1 on the natural surface on the North Shore, now becoming known as the golden Bears den of victory.
The 41-19 triumph over Sto-Rox in the district Class A finals was the Bears’ 14th football title and their first crown at Heinz Field since 2015. The Bears won the 2016 championship game over Jeannette, but the contest was played at Robert Morris.
Clairton started quick, scoring on the first drive of the game and building toward a 28-7 lead by halftime.
“They won the toss and surprisingly deferred until the second half, so that gave us a chance to gain momentum because we were expecting our defense to have a good game,” Clairton coach Wayne Wade said. “Scoring on the first drive, I believe, deflated them.”
The first drive was capped by a touchdown pass from Brendan Parsons. The senior quarterback enjoyed a big day by hitting on 8 of 14 passes for 201 yards and four interceptions. He also rushed for 94 yards on 20 carries.
“He has performed well for us all year,” Wade said. “Being a three-year starter always helps because of the experience. He did not play many full games this year, so that’s a reason for the stats not being ranked with some of the top throwers, but there’s not another QB I’ve seen this year that I would take over him.”
Three of Parsons’ scoring throws went to Keinlein Ogletree, the junior wide receiver who had 108 yards in receptions, led the Bears in tackles with eight and just as impressively, kicked five extra points for a team that would go an entire season with less than four extra points.
“Kenlein has played that way all year for us,” Wade said. “He’s our guy who gets the team going. Both sides of the ball, he’s a ball hawk.”
Ogletree led the way for a defense that did a great job keeping one of the top quarterbacks in the entire district in check.
Sto-Rox senior Eric Wilson is one of the few quarterbacks in WPIAL history to eclipse 8,000 yards passing for his career. However he struggled against Clairton, hitting on 12 of 41 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions, including a 69-yard back breaking pick-six by Dontae Sanders in the second quarter.
“Because they were a pass-heavy team in the scouting report, we played a lot of nickel and dime coverage and blitzed our guys from some different spots to keep some pressure on Wilson,” Wade said. “We usually can match any team we play skill for skill.”
The championship is the 10th for Clairton in the last 14 years and the team’s 11th victory in a row after a tough start.
The Bears began the season with back-to-back losses to Aliquippa and McGuffey before conference play began. Even at 0-2, there was no panic inside the Clairton locker room.
“No, because we were well aware of the issues we were facing at the beginning of the year,” Wade said. “We had a few kids out with injuries and some ineligible players because of grades.”
Now the Bears advance to the PIAA football playoffs, where they will hunt for a fifth state championship and first since 2012.
Clairton has a quarterfinals bye and will play the winner of Friday’s Farrell-Coudersport game in the state semifinals.
Wade says this week will be treated like most weeks during the season.
“It will be a regular week for us, just shortened,” he said.
2019 Trib HSSN football teams of the week:
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.