(WPIAL Class A Championship, Clairton versus Jeannette at Robert Morris University, Nov 2016) (Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online)
Friday October 27, 2017 will mark the fifth meeting between perennial Eastern Conference powerhouses the Jeannette Jayhawks (9-0/ 6-0) and the Clairton Bears (6-2/ 5-1). In the past four meetings, Clairton has come out on top, besting the Jayhawks 156-33 in combined scoring over said contests.
The storied history of both teams is known throughout the Mon Valley. The pride within each teams respective fan bases runs deep and every game, no matter the outcome, is entertaining to watch. This next encounter will be no different on that front. Jeannette is eager to finally overtake the team that has thwarted their attempts at a WPIAL Championship two years in a row. Clairton, on the other hand, is determined to make a run to the championship and show nay-sayers that a no-loss season doesn’t always lead to gold.
Jeannette comes into the game undefeated. That was to be expected. The Jayhawks have a disciplined defensive line that, in most cases, is stingy to give up points. The only challenge the Jayhawks have faced so far was against the up and coming Saints of Imani Christian Academy (a private school located in Wilkinsburg). Jeannette would go on to win the game, but their defense allowed the Saints to put up 36 points, the most of any school that Jeannette has faced this season.
The Jayhawks have currently outscored their opponents 427-96 averaging 47 points per game overall and only allowing roughly 10 against.
On the other side of the Monongahela River, the Clairton Bears hope to end their season on a high note.
It would be foolish to say that the Bears are the same team they were just a year ago. Much has changed. Back to back losses, one at the hands of Class 3A kingpin, the Aliquippa Quips, the other coming within conference to Imani Christian, dealt a massive blow to the hearts of a team heralded at the beginning of the season to once again run the table of Class A football. The Bears explosive offense and dynamic defense isn’t quite up to the bar of what everyone has come to expect. However, the team still remains successful, outscoring opponents 256-82 overall.
Though it may not be a big championship game, the next gridiron battle between these two storied teams does have quite a unique storyline that will play into who is awarded the Conference Title and where teams are seeded going into the WPIAL playoffs.
Try to follow along*:
- If the Jayhawks win, they will (potentially) lock up the number one seed. This would be the first time since 2007.
- If Clairton wins, it would force a three-way tie for first place. Jeannette, Clairton and Imani Christian would share the title.
- Now, if the Bears win by nine or less, the Jayhawks would still be the number one team in the conference due to Gardner Points.
- If Clairton wins by 10 points or more, AND Imani Christian beats their next opponent (Leechburg) by 10 points or more, the Gardner Points would all be tied, and the WPIAL would have to sanction an in-office coin flip to determine the top seed from the conference and head-to-head would decide second and third.
A lot is riding on Friday’s game and not just for the two teams facing each other. Seeding will be more important than ever as the Class A playoffs have the potential to be an even tougher road to Robert Morris. With the California Trojans (9-0/ 6-0) and their 263lb running back Jelani Stafford dominating the Tri-Country South conference and teams such as the Rochester Rams (6-2/ 6-1) and, surprisingly, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) (7-2/ 6-1)) taking names up in the Big Seven conference, the path to Championships will not be as easy for any team this season.
*Information compiled from information on Jeannette Jayhawks football page on Facebook.