Saturday, October 4, 2008

Friday night thoughts, Week 6

I know Chartiers-Houston fans do not want to hear this, but I believe the Bucs provided a blueprint for defeating Clairton during last night's 42-0 loss.

The current Clairton Bears have the most skilled playmakers I've seen on a Class A team since the 2001 Rochester Rams, who won the state title. Receiver Kevin Weatherspoon is special and I see why Pitt has already offered the junior a scholarship. Not only does Weatherspoon know how to get open, he seeks contact and plays a very intelligent game.

Now, back to the Bucs.

C-H packed in the offense, put three backs behind quarterback Evan Bender and hoped Brad Banas could fight his way for some first downs. Running room was scarce as Banas rushed 20 times for 39 yards, but he did fight off some tacklers. Seemed to me that C-H's main problem was it's inability to generate any push along the offensive line.

Judging by the reaction from the overflow crowd, Bucs fans wanted to offense to open up. I understand the sentiment. At times it seemed like C-H was playing not to lose as opposed to trying to win.

What happened when the Bucs did open things up? They threw an interception and the only pass completion went for minus-5 yards.

Time to give Clairton's defense credit. For all the press the offense receives, the Bears defense is just as good.

Still, watching C-H attempt to control the clock and the ball, something hit me. If a talented Rochester team, like this year's group, tried the same approach as C-H, don't you think it might be successful?

I do.

Clairton, in my opinion, is the best Class A team in the WPIAL, but that does not guarantee the Bears can't lose in the postseason. Don't forget, outside of Harrisburg is a very talented Steelton-Highspire, which happens to be the defending PIAA champs and a group that can match Clairton's athleticism.

** The Varsity Letters wants to hear from those in attendance at the Trinity at Belle Vernon game.

Belle Vernon allowed 143 points in its previous three before beating Trinity, 14-6, Friday night.

The loss dropped the Hillers to 1-3 in conference play and they have only two Big Seven games left (West Mifflin and Ringgold).

*** Carmichaels quarterback Joby Lapkowicz continues to amaze after returning to the lineup last week.

Against California, Lapkowicz completed 11 of 12 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Since his return against Jefferson-Morgan, Lapkowicz has completed more than 80 percent of his passes for slightly more than 500 yards and five touchdowns. That's in two games folks.

If you haven't already, it's time to recognize Lapkowicz as one of the best multi-sport athletes in Class A.

**** Kudos to Fort Cherry for showing Avella the respect it deserves. Here's hoping the rest of the Eagles' opponents follow the lead of FC coach Tim Garry.

***** It's safe to say that Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan and Upper St. Clair will qualify for the playoffs in the Great Southern Conference. After Mt. Lebanon beat Peters Township last night, which team finishes fourth?

And, finally, does anyone else believe that four teams qualifying for postseason play from a six-team conference indicates far too many participants are allowed entrance to the WPIAL playoffs?

Unless more teams move up to Class AAAA in the near future, the Varsity Letters wants to see the field reduced.

13 comments:

Clairton Alum said...

Mike, i read your articles and i think you are a very educated sports writer...but i have to ask you...in what part of that game last night did you see ANYTHING resembling a blue print to beat the bears? Was it the 42 the bucs gave up or the 0 they put on the board? Was it the 50 yards of offense the bucs produced for the entire game or was it brad banas running 20+ times for 39 yards? CH has a nice sized line and couldnt do A THING to control the line against Clairton. Im sorry Mike, there was no blueprint last night...other than how to win 6 straight games and inflict the mercy rule in each contest...oh and by the way in addition to that in back to back weeks take out the undefeated #3 team in class A...

I disagree with you completely Mike.

mike_kovak said...

I truly believe that a team like Rochester can do what C-H attempted to do last night.

I'm sticking to it.

I still believe Clairton is the best in Class A.

Clairton Alum said...

Ok, fair enough. I will say this...and I am more aware of this than any of your readers being a Clairton fan and alumni...the playoffs are not always friendly to the Clairton Bears. For as good and as dominate of a football program they have been over the last several years, goofy things happen in the playoffs...springdale last year, rochester numerous years...the list goes on. The regular season is great...but i will be the first one on here saying Clairton needs to be aware in the playoffs...especially of Rochester. I think every post i have made here in one way shape or form has stated something about Rochester being in the same league as Clairton. There is a rivalry/bitterness/hatred there between those two teams that has been unmatched outside of the Duquesne Dukes who are no longer in existance. The players dont like one another, the coaches dislike one another...and those games always seem as though they are decided by 1-3 points. In the last two seasons, Clairton has gotten the better of the rams beating them in the quarters last year and at Heinz for the title the year prior (and before that it was the rams dominating the bears for a few years)...dont be surprised if it comes down to those two teams again (that is if Clairton doesnt get ahead of themselves and lose in the semi's again). At that point, anything can and will happen...

Clairton Alum said...

...and i believe that Steelton Highspire is far and away the best team in "A" in the PIAA...that team is beating AAA and AAAA teams ...they are going to be a tough, next to impossible task for either Clairton, Rochester or any other team west of state college...

clairton alum said...

mike im sorry to keep posting, but i just went back and re-read this initial post:

"I know Chartiers-Houston fans do not want to hear this, but I believe the Bucs provided a blueprint for defeating Clairton during last night's 42-0 loss."

I dont believe the score "42-0" and "blueprint for defeating (fill in the blank here) has ever been used in the same sentence before...

sorry Mike, i had to comment on that...

Chris Dugan said...

There have been too many teams in the WPIAL playoffs for years. Unfortunately, it's mot going to change. Having four qualifiers from each conference makes no sense. It's simply a money grab by the WPIAL.

There was a time when making the playoffs meant something. It was an accomplishment. Now, I'm not so sure. Think back to a few years ago when Ringgold made the playoffs despite having a 1-7 record entering the final week of the regular season.

That's 1-7, folks.

It's all about the money.

mike_kovak said...

I know it sounds weird. What I am getting at is that a team with more muscle up front and a couple more weapons than C-H can employ a similar offense and it might work.

The only potential weakness I see on Clairton is the defensive front. Stress the word potential.

clairton alum said...

i know mike...i understand...for the most part im just giving you a hard time...but i thought coming into that game that CH had one of the better o-lines in "A"...

I dont know...we'll see...Clairton is going to walk through the final 3 before the playoffs start and then the real test comes...if Clairton can keep focused, stay grounded and stay out of their own way their going to be a tough out...

J.D. Billy said...

its not that hard to understand... CH had the right game plan to beat Clairton, they just simply weren't nearly as good as they needed to be to pull it off. Mike is saying if a team that actually stacks up against Clairton (Rochester) were to use the same strategy they would have a good chance at winning the game.

clairton alum said...

Love'em or Hate'em the Clairton Bears, by virtue of their 42-0 win over CH, Continue to be the top scoring team in the WPIAL with 281 points(top 5 or 10 in the state i believe) and are also the top defensive team in the WPIAL and PIAA in points allowed with 13. That is a DOMINANT team on both sides of the ball...

clairton alum said...

JD/Mike, I understand what both of you are saying, but i dont agree with your logic. CH's gameplan was to stack the line and run right down Clairton's throat. We all agree on that yes? We also all agree that CH had absolutley no success doing that yes? So I understand and hear what your saying, "well if CH had better players that would have worked"...well of course it may have...but if CH had a better QB and WR then passing all day would have worked too...its a simple question...does anyone in the league have better players than Clairton? maybe yes, maybe no...we'll find out.

i guess i am having a hard time trying to explain my problem with that...how do you know it would have worked? CH had less than 75 yards of offense the entire game...their "star" running back was held to under 40. Banas is supposed to be one of the best in class A. The CH offensive line is supposed to be highly rated. I mean of course if Clairton runs into a team that is better than them that has a bigger, more physical, more athletic/stronger line it may work, teams play to their strenghts, and CH thought that was their strength...but thats like me saying "geez, if only i had better players i could win more games..." well of course i could, thats common sense.

I dont think Rochester has a bigger line than what CH does...is rochester good? absolutely. Is Rochester going to give the bears a fight if it comes to that? absolutely...but if i am a coach and i am looking at the game film from that game my first thought isnt going to be "hmmm...CH ran right at them and gained 50 yards the entire game...i think thats the way we are going to beat them (unless i believe that the strength of my team is the power running game and i believe my strength is better than their strength then thats what im going to do)".

Does that make sense? I'm probably talking in circles but im trying to make my point.

Anonymous said...

If Rochester and Clairton play, Rochy's best chance at victory is doing what it does best. Run the football, take time off the clock and limit the Bears' offensive opportunities.
Clairton has better talent, no doubt. But Rochy knows how to win. Matsook is a better coach than Nola.
I don't count Rochy out.
All that being said, I think Clairton is the best team.

As for annointing Char-Houston and Fort Cherry as being better than Beth-Center, not so fast. B-C is coming on strong. It plays with great enthusiasm and Woods is a good coach. Yes, the TCS is weak, but until C-H and Fc win a playoff game, I'm not going to heap great praise.

R. Keith Taylor said...

Trinity played BVA without their coach if I can recall. I think having your coach is very important. BVA's defense is still bad. Ringgold will score 40+ agaisnt BVA.