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Looking at the box scores through the first two weeks of the seasons brought up a major question: what is wrong with Clairton?
The Bears – winners of 13 WPIAL Championships and nine of the last 13 – were 0-2, and didn’t look good in those games.
The team brought in a new offensive coordinator, new offensive and defensive line coaches all for a team with just four seniors.
But as the season went on, three-year starter Brendan Parsons started to find his rhythm in the offense and became of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the WPIAL.
The senior finished the season with 1,684 passing yards and 905 rushing yards, leading the Bears on an eight-game winning streak on their way to the No. 1 overall seed in Class-1A.
The Bears offense put up 41 and 39 points against OLSH and Cornell in the first two rounds and looked impressive again in the WPIAL Finals against Sto-Rox.
Parsons threw just 14 passes but completed eight of them for 201 yards and four touchdowns.
“Coming into the year, we felt like we could have a great year, but we were uncertain on how it would go,” said Clairton coach Wayne Wade. “But we just continued to grind, (Parsons) continued to grow in the offense, understand what we wanted to do.”
“When they first came in, it was a little confusing. But as we kept going on during the season, I started really liking the new offense,” said Parsons.
After scoring 41 points combined in the first two games, Clairton averaged 40 points per game in the final 11 games including the WPIAL Championship.
“Most teams try to stop the run, and they kind of forget about him. He’s always been a dual threat. It was pick your poison. We have a lot of weapons and options. We utilized them all this year.”
Clairton’s weapons were on full display against the Vikings, including senior Kenlein Ogletree. The receiver caught three passes for 108 yards, all three were scores in the victory.
“It’s amazing. We came up in little league together, and we had a good connection when we came to high school and it just never stopped,” said Parsons. “I trust every time I throw him the ball he’s going to come down with it.”
“If he can just get it in the air, I know I’ll come down with the ball. It’s me or nobody, that’s my mindset,” said Ogletree.
Wade joked and said Ogletree has that mindset in a game that everything should run through him, and it nearly did, especially on the defensive end.
Ogletree played an important role at the safety position as part of a defensive backfield that held Sto-Rox star quarterback Eric Wilson to just 12 completions.
At the half, Wilson was just 4 for 13 for 84 yards. The Sto-Rox passing game looked out of sync throughout the day and were unable to hit on the deep passing game.
“Our pass defense played well today. we played a lot of nickel and dime coverage, our guys had safeties over the top so they were able to press up and get after guys and they did well,” said Wade.
Dontae Sanders, Jonte Sanders and Isaiah Berry all had interceptions for the Bears and Dontae’s was returned 69 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“I had a little (bit of) happy feet, just moving around when I didn’t need to,” said Wilson. “They did a good job of knowing when to send pressure and when not to send pressure. It got me a little antsy. Some throws were at weird angles. It was definitely good pressure.”
The win earns Clairton a bye in the PIAA Class-1A playoffs and will play either the Nov. 29 or Nov. 30.