Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clairton's Defense Is Very Underrated

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clairton's Defense Is Very Underrated

Article excerpt

It's easy to be "wowed" by Clairton's offense. Lamont Wade and Noah Hamlin have enough big plays to make a lengthy highlight tape. The team averages 48 points a game.

But looking at the Bear claw prints that were left on 13 WPIAL teams this autumn, it is obvious that defense also played a huge role in Clairton's run to a WPIAL Class 1A title.

Call it a major case of junior achievement.

Clairton's defense had a number of inexperienced players entering the season. But they have jelled into an excellent unit that gives up only seven points a game and has held nine of 13 opponents to eight points or less. The defense was a main reason Clairton won its ninth WPIAL title in 11 years. The next test for the Bears is Farrell (10-3) in a PIAA Class 1A semifinal tonight at Slippery Rock University.

Wade and Hamlin are big parts of the unit in the secondary, although Hamlin hasn't played the past two games because of an injured knee. But the defense has eight junior starters and one sophomore.

"I think our defense is very underrated," said Wade after Clairton beat Jeannette, 26-6, to win the WPIAL title last Saturday. "I think our defense won the championship, honestly. Our offense wasn't clicking as much, but the defense was really stout."

Jeannette averaged 42 points a game this season and scored 30 points or more in every game but two. Both were against Clairton. Besides the championship game, Clairton held Jeannette to 13 points in the regular-season finale.

"Our defense has played lights out all year," said Clairton coach Wayne Wade, Lamont's cousin. "You really don't see it a lot because in certain games we pull back because we're already up, 30-0, in the first quarter. But our defense has been great."

Jeff Thompson is Clairton's defensive coordinator, but Wayne Wade also is heavily involved in the defense.

Defensive end Maurice Reeves is 6 feet 4, 215 pounds and one of those top juniors on defense. Junior Travis Irons, junior Koytt Hall, junior Justin Davenport and junior Anthony Pruitt are the defensive linemen. …

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