SENIORS—The departing seniors with some of the coaches. (Photos by J. L. Martello)
Many members of the Clairton Bears team have been playing some form of football together since they were kids.
Those years of playing together mixed with the shear determination and desire to win led the team to accumulate some amazing statistics: 42 consecutive conference wins, 613 all-time wins, 335 shut outs in four years, four consecutive PIAA titles, nine WPIAL titles, and four PA state titles.
All of these accolades have given the Bears the best four-year record in the state and the number one all time wins in Allegheny County.
“The team chemistry is why we are so good,” said Robert Boatright, a senior defensive end/fullback that has been on the team for three years. “Other teams have to recruit and we don’t have to do that. We know everyone’s personality and we’re like brothers.”
“It’s a real blessing to have such wonderful players. It’s amazing what these guys have done. This couldn’t have been done without the players,” said Clairton Bears head coach Tom Nola. “All of the 17 seniors are going to college or joining the military upon graduation.”
The team was recently honored for its astonishing season through the annual PIAA/WPIAL championship banquet. There the players were honored with championships rings to commemorate it. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was scheduled as the keynote speaker but was a no show.
“We work so hard each year and we don’t want to lose the winning streak. Ever since we were young playing together we were told we were winners. I’ll never play with these guys again and I love Clairton and will never forget where I am from,” said senior Vincent Moody who held the team’s running back position for three years.
Senior and defensive back Titus Howard, who’ll be joining several of his teammates at the University of Pittsburgh next year, agrees with Moody.
“I enjoy all of this It’s a great feeling to have four rings,” Howard said, sweeping his arms around the Georgetown Centre ballroom during the banquet and flashing his newest ring. “But I want to show that there’s something better coming out of Clairton than what people see. A lot of people don’t see a lot of good coming out of Clairton. People should never give up and keep fighting. We have faced adversity but we kept fighting. “
Clairton was created at the turn of the 20th century when Crucible Steel Company purchased a large piece of land along the western side of the Monongahela River in the 1930′s. Not long after, U.S. Steel erected one of the world’s largest steel mill and coke production facilities there. In its heyday, Clairton had a strong and thriving business district and educational system. The City of Prayer peaked in the 1950′s with a population of almost 25,000.
When the steel industry decreased in the 1980′s, so did Clairton. Currently there are about 7,000 residents there. More than half are White while only two of the 40 bears football players are Caucasian.
“It’s a lot going on in the streets of Clairton,” said senior center/nose guard Damond Flowers. “People are fighting, but every Friday they came together as a big happy family. We bought everyone together through football.”
The underclassmen on the team plan on continuing the Bears winning streak next season.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” said first-year player junior Brandon Murphy. “I’m excited. Hard work and dedication is what’s needed. I think we can go all the way next year. We’ve stuck together and we don’t talk down to each other.”
Like the team, assistant coach Remondo Williams, Sr. is ready for next year which will see three freshmen, two juniors and several sophomores returning to the Bears line up.
“You can never count Clairton kids out. I can see them all doing well academically, with sports and giving back to the community,” Williams said.