WHAT: PIAA CLASS A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
WHO: No. 1 Bishop Guilfoyle (14-0) vs. No. 2 Clairton (14-0)
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 9 , 1 P.M.
WHERE: HersheyPark Stadium
This is probably one of the most anticipated rematches in recent PIAA Championship history. Bishop Guilfoyle got the best of Clairton in the 2014 Class A State Championship game. Clairton did not make it to the finals last year, while Bishop Guilfoyle steamrolled their way to a second straight state championship. Most people had these two teams pencilled in for the championship game this year before the season even started.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE'S 2016 RESULTS
8/26: 34-16 win against Bedford
9/3: 35-7 win against Westmont Hilltop
9/9: 31-14 win against Bishop McCort
9/16: 48-3 win against Cambria Heights
9/23: 45-0 win against Forest Hills
10/1: 35-0 win against Penn Cambria
10/7: 52-0 win against Bishop Carroll
10/15: 49-7 win against Central Cambria
10/21: 21-14 win against Greater Johnstown
10/28: 48-18 win against Somerset
11/11: 58-0 win against Juniata Valley
11/18: 55-6 win against Northern Cambria
11/25: 52-6 win against Homer-Center12/2: 48-6 win against Steel-High
CLAIRTON'S 2016 RESULTS
9/2: 58-8 win against Bishop Canevin
9/9: 32-0 win against Springdale
9/16: 84-0 win against Greensburg Central Catholic
9/23: 66-11 win against Monessen
9/30: 48-6 win against Imani Christian
10/7: 52-16 win against Aliquippa
10/14: 44-0 win against Leechburg
10/22: 60-0 win against Riverview
10/28: 32-13 win against Jeanette
11/4: 50-6 win against Avella
11/11: 46-8 win against Fort Cherry
11/19: 38-14 win against Northgate
11/26: 26-6 win against Jeannette12/2: 24-6 win against Farrell
Offense: The Marauders come into the game averaging 43.4 points a game. Athlete Evan Chadbourn injured his knee during the offseason and hadn’t played in a game this year until last week’s Eastern Final Steel-High. The Marauders didn’t miss a step while he was out as senior running back Andrew Irwin picked up the slack and then some by rushing for 1,577 yards and 33 touchdowns. Junior running back Michael Berish is the second leading rusher on the team with 442 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Josh Trybus has once again showed his dual-threat capabilities as he passed for 1,448 yards and rushed for 413 yards while scoring 24 total touchdowns (20 passing).
Even though the Marauders gained over 3,300 yards rushing, it’s not as if they’re unable to pass the ball consistently. The two leading receivers for the Marauders are junior wide receiver Mark Conrad (26 catches for 607 yards, eight touchdowns) and senior tight end Luke Frederick (28 catches for 384 yards, three touchdowns). The offensive line is anchored by junior Nick Leamer, senior Logan McGeary, and junior Daniel Ramsey.
Defense: The Marauders were only tested in a Oct. 21 game against Greater Johnstown where they ended up winning 21-14. The team has racked up 64.5 sacks and Luke Frederick is responsible for nineteen of those. Senior Mark Fanelli has 8.5 sacks on the season. Frederick also leads the Marauders in tackles with 129 (53 solo). Andrew Irwin (147 tackles, 50 solor), Mark Comrade (48 tackles, 16 solo) and Josh Trybus (45 tackles, 18 solo) round out the top four tacklers for the Maruaders.
Offense: The Bears are averaging 43.6 points per game and no team was able to stay within reach of the Bears for a full four quarters. Noah Hamlin leads the offense at quarterback (42/82 passes for 981 yards, 10 touchdowns, 12 interceptions). Clairton’s ground game is where their bread is buttered at and five-star cornerback Lamont Wade leads the brigade with 2,298 yards off of 163 carries and 32 touchdowns. Noah Hamlin has rushed 59 times for 712 yards and 19 touchdowns. Tre Howard (52 carries for 557 yards and 11 touchdowns) and Kijafi Fuqua (59 carries for 457 yards and 6 touchdowns) round out the leading ball-carriers for Clairton.
Defense: The Bears have not allowed opponents to score in double-digits in the past couple of weeks. Clairton may not be the biggest on defense, but they are certainly among the fastest. Fuqua and Anthony Pruitt head a very young linebacking group for the Bears. Howard, Hamlin, and Wade headline a very talented secondary.
Cleezy's take: This is THE rematch of the weekend in my opinion. Bishop Guilfoyle is going for their third straight Class A State Championship and Clairton is trying to win their first one in three years. Expect Lamont Wade to play the game of his life because in Clairton, it's all about state titles. There's no question in my mind that Wade wants to further cement his legacy at Clairton with a state title. However, Bishop Guilfoyle is definitely not going to make that easy.
Bishop Guilfoyle will use the same formula they've been using for the last two-plus years. It all starts with an offensive line that's big and can move around. Nobody in Class A has a line that can match their size AND ability. Look for them to get the ball to Luke Frederick in the passing game as he'll have a size advantage over anyone who covers him. Clairton's defensive front is going to have to bring their "A" game this week to hold up against the bigger Bishop Guilfoyle offensive line. Expect Bishop Guilfyole to give Clairton a heavy dose of Andrew Irwin in the running game.
Bishop Guilfoyle will have to contend with one of the best all-around offensive weapons in Lamont Wade. Clairton's Noah Hamlin may be the X-factor for the Bears and will need to play mistake-free football at quarterback. The same goes for Bishop Guilfoyle quarterback Josh Trybus, who rarely makes mistakes in big games. Expect Trybus to continue to make plays just as he did in last year's championship game with his feet and his arm.
This heated rivalry game will take place on Friday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. in HersheyPark Stadium.