HERSHEY – Armani Ford had one last scamper to make on the Hersheypark Stadium field after Clairton won yet another state title.
“Hey, where are the medals at?” the senior exclaimed with a wide grin, as he ran through a sideline full of happy teammates following the Bears’ 20-0 shutout Friday of Dunmore.
Ford threw for one touchdown, ran for another and Clairton won its 63rd straight game by stuffing Dunmore’s power-rushing attack to take its fourth straight PIAA Class A championship.
Fellow senior standout Tyler Boyd added a 5-yard rushing score to help Clairton (16-0) become just the third program in state history to win four consecutive titles, joining Berwick and Southern Columbia.
“Wow, that is so amazing to me,” coach Tom Nola said about the win streak. “I’ve got great assistant coaches. I’ve got great players that are athletic – they’re the ones who go out there and play.”
The speedy Bears were just as tough defensively in stuffing the Bucks (14-2). Dunmore’s best series of the afternoon ended after linebacker Robert Boatright sacked Brandon Kujawski on fourth-and-7 from the 26 midway through the fourth quarter.
Austin Seamon had 12 carries for 45 yards, while Daiqwon Buckley had 16 for 44 for Dunmore, which had entered Friday averaging 27.5 points per game.
Boyd added an interception, too, while playing safety – though it’s his offensive skills that are making college coaches take notice. Three Penn State assistant coaches watched from the sideline.
Boyd did his best to impress in rushing for 117 yards on 20 carries and catching three passes for 50 yards.
“Outstanding athlete. You can see why he’s a Division I football player,” Dunmore coach Jack Henzes said. “And they’ve got some other players who are pretty good, too.”
Ford tore through the Dunmore defense all day, finishing 10-of-18 passing for 150 yards and running nine times for 45 yards.
Clairton’s fans started celebrating early after Ford’s 29-yard touchdown run with 4:06 left gave Clairton a 20-point lead.
Not even two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties at the end of the play – forcing Clairton to kick off from its own 12 – could dampen the mood.
Dunmore returned the ensuing kickoff to the Clairton 26 – only to fumble the ball away back to the Bears with 4 minutes to go.
Clairton’s success has garnered national attention – and not just because of the remarkable 63-game win streak. Football has become a rallying point for the western Pennsylvania, blue-collar town in tough economic times.
Hundreds of Bears fans wearing black and orange roared their approval from the stands on a cold but sunny afternoon in Hershey.
“That’s every day – without them we wouldn’t be as hype as we were coming into this game,” Boyd said.
Clairton held the ball for more than 30 minutes and held decisive advantages in total yards (282-79) and first downs (23-6).
But Henzes wants his team to remember the season overall, not the last game.
“They did a great job for us all year. I know they’re disappointed but at the same time we hope that they’re going to learn from this experience and try to make themselves better persons,” he said.
All that attention over the win streak didn’t put more pressure on the Bears, Ford said.
“We’ve been playing football for the last 20 weeks,” he said as his teammates celebrated around him. “It’s been a lot of fun.”