Friday, December 28, 2012

What a season!

From the New York Times: Finding Hope in Football, and Providing It
By Jeré Longman
Kickoff for the Pennsylvania state championship game was minutes away. Music and a taped inspirational speech filled the Clairton High School locker room. But Terrish Webb sat outside on a set of concrete steps. He wiped tears from his eyes.
“I miss my dad,” Webb, 17, told his close friend and teammate Robby Boatwright, who gave him a hug.
“I got your back,” Boatwright said. “I love you.”
Six years earlier, almost to the day, Webb’s father had been shot to death as he drove his car in the late afternoon near the football field in Clairton, a frayed steel mill town south of Pittsburgh. Webb was 11 at the time. The case has never been solved.
“When you have tragedy like that in your immediate family, some kids tend to go the wrong way,” said Wayne Wade, a former star quarterback at Clairton who is now the team’s defensive coordinator. “They can’t handle it. They start to question themselves. Why me? They look into different avenues to go, which are negative. Terrish found a positive one in football with a lot of his friends. They vowed a long time ago that they wanted to win state championships and they did all the right things to do it.”
Clairton fell on hard times when the steel industry collapsed in the 1980s. Much of its downtown is abandoned, boarded up. But football has provided a glimmer of hope amid the civic gloominess. Webb caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in a 20-0 victory in the Class A title game on Dec. 14 at Hersheypark Stadium, helping Clairton to a fourth consecutive state championship and its 63rd consecutive win, the nation’s longest current winning streak.
A 6-foot-1 receiver and cornerback, Webb caught 16 touchdown passes, rushed for 4 touchdowns and intercepted 8 passes this season. He is also the senior class president and ranks second in his class with a 3.8 grade-point average. He is considering playing college football at Kent State, Pittsburgh or Toledo.
“That’s a special person who can come back from such adversity,” Tom Nola, Clairton’s coach, said of Webb. “He’s the best student on the team. He’s going to college. He’s going to make something of his life. My hat’s off to him.”
Nola credited Webb’s mother, Tinisha Webb, who works as an administrative assistant at a hospital in suburban Pittsburgh, with keeping Terrish from despair and stressing the importance of education. His friends, too, vowed that they would not succumb to the temptations and violence of a city where nearly a quarter of the 6,796 residents live below the poverty level.
“People think this is just football,” Webb said. “This is more than football to us. This is the way out from where we come from.”

Now What?
The Bears have just finished an amazing four seasons. Now they will be given the accolades they've earned. This comes in the form of an awards banquet and awarding of rings, announcement of other awards, etc. and takes place in March. In the past the banquet has been held in the Ascension Hall in Clairton. This year, ion celebration of their fourth consecutive state title they hope to hold the banquet in a more formal setting. Also, the school district is unable to pay for all the rings. Thus we are asking that you make a donation to help. Last year donations ranged from $1.00 to $500.00. The rings (about $200 each) were paid for and enough money was left over for the purchase of capes for the players to fend off the winter weather as they stand on the sidelines.

I'm sending an email blast to alumni that reads as follows:

"HAPPY NEW YEAR CHS ALUMNI, FRIENDS & FAMILY, once again I am asking for your help. Our Fabulous Clairton Bears won their 5th WPIAL championship and their 4th consecutive PIAA Championship. I have one New Year's Wish from all my blog readers, FB friends, family, & CHS Alumni. My one New Year Wish is that each one of you send at least $1.00 to help out the non-profit organization that has been set up by members of the CHS School Board to help purchase the Championship Rings for our fabulous Clairton Bears. Your donation is tax deductible as a non-profit donation. Please send your donations to the following address:

Clairton Athletic Champions Club, c/o William Bradford, P.O. Box 303, Clairton, Pa 15025

Thank you CHS Alumni, friends & family!"

A little blogging music Maestro... "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bears Win #63!

Game. Set. Match. Bravo! The Clairton Bears had a tough game against a tough opponent. Not only was Dunmore tough, they made our boys look like a pee-wee team. The lineman from Dunmore reached a height go 6'7" and weight of 275. Our kids line went 5'10, 5'10, 5,9", six feet even, and only one tipped the scales at an even 200. But once the game started the Bears that looked like cubs against their opponents played like giant Grizzlies. They gave as good as they got, even better. Dunmore, who came into the game with a 14-1 record in a would not be a team that would succumb to the Mercy rule - they only allowed CHS one touchdown per half until the last three minutes of the game. But that was enough for the Bears as they won their fourth consecutive State Championship by a score of 20-0.

Terrence Fort is amazing: Terrence is a CHS alum. Until I met him I did not believe that Terrence Fort was a real person. I thought he was just a ball of energy, as he is never in one place. He travels the country in his job and has an acute interest in his Alma Mater. Terrence, along with others who've assisted, started a group called Reaching the Reachable. It has been about a year since I was honored to be a speaker on behalf of this group. They are all about CHS students pursuing post-secondary success through education, entrepreneurship, and any other means that would enhance members of the Clairton student body. But Terrence also is a rabid Bear fan and he summed up their fourth consecutive victory as follows: "I wish I had the skills to put down on paper what I saw at Hershey on Friday. I saw a depleted team, that was undermanned and undersized. With most of their key players injured and in Pain. Some limping and some holding onto appendages, On the other side I saw a Team that looked like they were part of a College Program. They had several Goliaths that are going to Division 1 schools on their lines. They had two 1000 yard rushers. You see they came out with a 23 Square foot sign that stated the streak ends here and their team busted through it. And in their stands they had all the backing that is provided by the "Steeler Nation". One thing they didn't know. They didn't "KNOW BOUT DAT". They didn't know how much HEART the Clairton Bears have. OMG!!! I watched Time and Again David s
tep around Goliath and crush those "1000 yarders" with losses. I watched the Bears trapped back on their own 5 yard line march down the field, moving chains forward all he way down the field. At that time I was able to see David Slay Goliath. I knew then that they were broken and the Bears were on their way to their 4th straight PA Championship and a record 63d consecutive win. IF OUR KIDS CAN STAND UP LIKE THIS AND MAKE US SO PROUD OF THEM, The least we can do is Mentor them and teach them that even though you have gone out and conquered what has been in front of you for your first 18 years, you now have 60 more to pepare for. RTR Mentoring is having a meeting on Monday the 17th. Most of you know about it. We are going into the school to Mentor the 7th - 9th graders at 9:00 on Tuesday and 10th - 12th immediately following. Your Support is still needed for those that played, those that didn't/don't, and both genders. Bear Pride!! More than just the TEAM TAF/RTR/CEO" (editor's note: the Bears were constantly referred to as Goliath and their opponent David, but the Dunmore line had players who were 6'7" and 245 lbs. while the Bears had one lineman at 215 lbs. The rest were smaller.)

Jim Wessell; major factor: Jim is the former Athletic Director at CHS. He has been a guest on a radio show that went worldwide and has posted game progress of every game on his Facebook page. Now that the run is done for the year Jim has compiled some statistics about the Bears streak, as follow: 

Numbers to think about for this Clairton Senior Class...
Overall Record: 63-1 (best 4 year record ever in PA)
WPIAL Playoff Record: 16-0
PIAA Playoff Record: 12-0
Overall Playoff Record: 28-0

WPIAL Championships: 4
PIAA Championships: 4

Total Points Scored: 2,825 (most ever in PA over a 4 year period)
Total Points Against: 311
Average score over 64 games: 44.141 - 4.859
Only team in PA history to score 600 or more points in 4 consecutive seasons
Only team in PA history to score 700 or more points in 3 consecutive seasons

Only WPIAL team to ever win 4 PIAA State Championships
Only WPIAL team to ever win 4 PIAA State Championships in a row
Only WPIAL team to ever appear in 5 consecutive State Championship games
Only the third team in PA history to win 4 PIAA State Championships in a row (Southern Columbia 5, Berwick 4)
Only the second team in WPIAL history to win 5 consecutive WPIAL Championships (Braddock 5)
Only WPIAL team to ever win 6 WPIAL Championships in 7 years

Longest WPIAL winning streak (63 games)
Longest PIAA winning streak ever (63 games)
Longest current National winning streak (63 games)
13th Longest winning streak ever in the History of High School Football in the United States

Ranked #1 in the PIAA in Class A (
Ranked #5 in the PIAA across all classes (
Ranked in the top 10 of small school teams in the Nation (
Ranked #145 in the Nation across all classes (

16 Seniors going on to college, at least 3 at the D-1 level

Clairton is 613-347-41 all-time

'Nuff said!

A little blogging music Maestro... "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bears Shine in the Woods!

Bear Nation goes national: In case you missed it, there have been stories about the Clairton Bears written in the New York Times, USA Today, Las Vegas Review-Journal a sports radio show broadcast from Las Vegas,  and a CBS national news spot on the Bears (see below)

#62 challenge: The Clairton Bears had reached the semi-final game for the PA Site Championship. Their opponent was highly touted Port Allegany whose quarterback needed one more TD to tie a state record for touchdown passes. Their star running back held several rushing records. Their record was 13-0. Yes, this would be a formidable opponent on paper. The game was played in a neutral site but the opposing fans were cordial and probably the best fans the Bears had faced in a while. No cat calls. No racial epithets. The team was much the same with no dirty ply and a good, hard-fought first half that saw CHS on the good side of an 8-6 lead. Then, in the second half the Bears awoke from their hibernation. They played like the Bears have played 61 times before and when the smoke had cleared the final score was Clairton 44, Port Allegany 12 (and that last TD came with 40 second's to play but gave their vaunted quarterback his record).

Clairton will meet Dunmore for the state championship this Friday at 1:00 EDT. Here is a clip from a Dunmore area newspaper: "Dunmore's powerful offensive line wore down Bellwood-Antis in the second half and the defense came up with three turnovers as the Bucks advanced to the PIAA Class A championship game with a 40-19 semifinal win Friday night at Central Mountain High School.Dunmore (14-1) will play defending state champ Clairton, a 37-6 (sic) winner over Port Allegany, on Friday at 1 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium. "It's really unbelievable," said Sal Marchese, whose forced fumble early in the third quarter helped turn a close game into a rout. "All the work we put in and it really pays off. I'm glad we work this hard." Just like the quarterfinal win last week, Dunmore punished an opponent physically in the second half. Daiqwon Buckley rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries, while Austin Seamon added 163 yards - 101 of those and both his touchdowns coming in the second half as the Bucks pulled away from a 19-13 halftime lead."

The game will be televised on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Do not lose focus: Somewhere early in the second half, Port Allegany's team quit believing they had a chance to win the game. Once a team does not believe they can win it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Witness the second half when CHS moved the ball at will and scored on series after series with their second and third string playing. The fullback who scored the final CHS TD is 5'5" in his platform shoes!

The offense played well and the defense played magnificently. Long after most baby boomers are gone these kids will tell their grandkids about the magical run by the little school that could and did.... with all odds stacked against them.

That's the good news. The bad news is that CHS is ranked academically among the bottom of schools in PA. That means that even students who are academically superior at the school will struggle in college. I know this from working with college athletes who came similarly academically challenged high schools. It is crucial that two things happen in order for our fellow alumni to be academically competitive in college. First, they need to be taught  college study and survival skills. This is being worked on both in the school and through a program started by Terrence Fort, Ted Kay, and other alumni before last year's championship game. The program is called "Reaching the Reachable," and they've done a fantastic job developing a cadre of successful alumni to address the needs of the students.

Equally important is that those seniors who go to post-secondary schools select schools that will provide academic support services and, particularly for those on athletic scholarships, choose a school that provides academic aftercare. That is, once athletic eligibility is exhausted, there needs to be a program that allows the student who has not completed a degree to come back for free or reduced tuition in exchange for some sort of community service.

The season is about to end but their future is just beginning.

A little blogging music Maestro, "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Its all about the Bears today

In case you were wondering: Jim Wessel was able to dig out a 61-game history of the Clairton Bears.

1.  9/11/2009             Clairton 46 - Monessen 0
2.  9/18/2009             Clairton 62 - Frazier 7
3.  9/25/2009             Clairton 53 - Bentworth 0
4.  10/2/2009             Clairton 45 - Fort Cherry 6
5.  10/9/2009             Clairton 63 - Chartiers Houston 3
6.  10/16/2009           Clairton 53 - Burgettstown 0
7.  10/23/2009           Clairton 59 - Avella 0
8.  10/30/2009           Clairton 39 - Serra 7
9.  11/6/2009             *Clairton 61 - South Side Beaver 0
10.  11/13/2009         *Clairton 24 - Avonworth 0
11.  11/20/2009         *Clairton 33 - Laurel 0
12.  11/27/2009         **Clairton 14 - Rochester 13
13.  12/4/2009           #Clairton 46 - Conemaugh Township 0
14.  12/11/2009         #Clairton 13 - Farrell 7
15.  12/18/2009         ##Clairton 15 - Bishop McCort 3
16.  9/3/2010             Clairton 41 - Washington 0
17.  9/10/2010           Clairton 55 - Western Beaver 6
18.  9/17/2010           Clairton 60 - Carlynton 6
19.  9/24/2010           Clairton 48 - Chartiers Houston 0
20.  10/1/2010           Clairton 65 - Avella 0
21.  10/8/2010           Clairton 60 - Bentworth 0
22.  10/15/2010         Clairton 52 - Brentwood 0
23.  10/22/2010         Clairton 42 - Fort Cherry 7
24.  10/29/2010         Clairton 60 - Serra 0
25.  11/5/2010           *Clairton 42 - Carmichaels 0
26.  11/12/2010         *Clairton 47 - Bishop Canevin 0
27.  11/19/2010         *Clairton 26 - Springdale 7
28.  11/27/2010         **Clairton 12 - Rochester 0
29.  12/3/2010           #Clairton 52 - North Star 0
30.  12/10/2010         #Clairton 48 - Farrell 8
31.  12/17/2010         ##Clairton 36 - Riverside 30
32.  9/2/2011             Clairton 42 - Washington 12
33.  9/10/2011           Clairton 48 - Western Beaver 0
34.  9/16/2011           Clairton 44 - Carlynton 0
35.  9/23/2011           Clairton 36 - Chartiers Houston 0
36.  9/30/2011           Clairton 84 - Avella 0
37.  10/7/2011           Clairton 54 - Bentworth 0
38.  10/14/2011         Clairton 32 - Brentwood 0
39.  10/21/2011         Clairton 35 - Fort Cherry 6
40.  10/28/2011         Clairton 48 - Serra 0
41.  11/4/2011           *Clairton 54 - Cornell 0
42.  11/11/2011         *Clairton 34 - Springdale 20
43.  11/18/2011         *Clairton 43 - Rochester 7
44.  11/26/2011         **Clairton 42 - Sto Rox 6
45.  12/2/2011           #Clairton 44 - North Star 0
46.  12/9/2011           #Clairton 30 - Sharpsville 8
47.  12/16/2011         ##Clairton 35 - Southern Columbia 19
48.  8/31/2012           Clairton 22 - Chartiers Houston 20
49.  9/7/2012             Clairton 50 - Carlynton 7
50.  9/14/2012           Clairton 54 - California 6
51.  9/20/2012           Clairton 52 - Monessen 7
52.  9/28/2012           Clairton 65 - Fort Cherry 0
53.  10/5/2012           Clairton 42 - Brentwood 7
54.  10/13/2012         Clairton 53 - Bishop Canevin 15
55.  10/19/2012         Clairton 41 - Serra 0
56.  10/26/2012         Clairton 52 - Imani Christian 0
57.  11/2/2012           *Clairton 58 - Frazier 6
58.  11/9/2012           *Clairton 39 - Brentwood 0
59.  11/16/2012         *Clairton 37 - Neshannock 7 (Ties the all-time state record)
60.  11/23/2012         **Clairton 58 - Sto Rox 21 (Breaks the all-time state record)
61.  11/30/2012         #Clairton 53 - Berlin Brothersvalley 0

* - WPIAL Playoff Win

** - WPIAL Championship Win

# - PIAA Playoff Win

## - PIAA Championship Win

Next Friday The Bears play Port Alegany. I know, don't like the spelling either but that's how it reads on the official PIAA match ups. Should the Bears find themselves on a 62-game win streak at the conclusion of that game they will go to Hershey and on Friday 12/14 play the winner of the Dunmore-Bellwood game for the state championship

Just a few records: We know the Bears have set a record or two this season. Tyler Boyd has garnered the most publicity and records but all players agree, there is no "I" in TEAM. This team has crushed its opponents to the tune of an average 45-4 score. They've been highlighted in USA Today as well as The New York Times. They have brought the community together and reinforced the pride in Clairton. But remember two things: First, while football expands the options of young men in Clairton, it is not the only thing they have going for them. Yes, the students of Clairton have some obstacles not present in more wealthy socio-economic communities, but that makes them stronger and more resolute.

Secondly, a record-setting football team is not a panacea for all the ills in any community. There are still issues that need to be addressed in Clairton but the exposure that has put the community in a positive light has opened the door to possibilities that were not as obvious previously. With real estate values so low and community interest so high, and with the many projects that are going on to beautify the city and look after its citizens, and with the gorgeous homes along Halcomb and Mitchell Avenues, as well as other parts of town, Clairton is ripe for new business, renewal, and becoming a place where young urban professionals can invest their time, effort, and money. I see the glass as half full and just waiting to be filled to the brim.

The latest information for the semi-final: From Robert White - "The game against Port Allegany will be played next Friday at 7:00 pm at Deer Lakes High School in Cheswick, PA.  This site is much closer to Clairton than to Port Allegany which is in McKean County in North Central, PA.  Cheswick is north and east of Pittsburgh, not far from New Kensington.  I would say Clairton has the site advantage. "

Go Bears!

A little blogging music Maestro, "Sweet Emotion," by Aerosmith.

Dr. Forgot