Success can be spelled out rather simply for the Washington High School football team.
The Prexies have a winning streak they want to extend and a reputation they are seeking to end.
Washington hasn’t lost in the regular season since Oct. 11, 2013, a winning streak currently at 29 games. However, it’s a streak of failing to reach a WPIAL championship game, despite being a top-four seed each of the last three years, that motivates the Prexies.
Even after rolling through last year’s regular season unscathed again, outscoring their opponents by an average of 35 points per game, the Prexies fell one victory shy of the championship game, losing to Neshannock 27-7 in the semifinals.
“Once you get into the playoffs, every week you are playing a good team,” said head coach Mike Bosnic. “We had a nice season last year but didn’t play a very good game at the end. It was a disappointing way for it to end.”
That setback joined losses to Freeport in the 2015 quarterfinals, Aliquippa in the 2014 semifinals and a first-round loss to Seton-La Salle in 2013. Disappointment in the playoffs has been nothing new to Wash High.
It’s not lost on do-it-all senior Isaiah Schoonmaker.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Schoonmaker said. “Every time we go undefeated in the regular season and when we get to the playoffs we just break down. This year, it’s about keeping the team together and coming out on top.”
Schoonmaker, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, was vital on both sides of the ball for Washington. Featured on defense at linebacker, he finished with 65 tackles, including 40 solo stops. He had 12 tackles for losses, four interceptions, forced three fumbles, blocked two punts and recorded a safety. On offense, Schoonmaker split time at running back and wide receiving, rushing for 307 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught two touchdowns, both going for touchdowns.
“He is just a great athlete,” Bosnic said. “He’s been making big plays for the past four years. We’re going to use him the same way we have been offensively, getting him all over the field. We might stress getting him the ball a little more this year.”
Schoonmaker’s role on offense will have to be expanded because of the graduation of wide receiver Isaiah Robinson. A threat to score every time he touched the football, Robinson led the Prexies with 33 receptions for 533 yards and eight touchdowns. The nine times Robinson had the opportunity to run the ball, he gained 288 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also was dangerous on special teams, returning four punts for scores.
Whoever gets the ball will be getting it from a new quarterback after the departure of Connor Bedillion, who completed 65 of 122 passes for 1,087 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. Either senior Ronnie Paith or sophomore Zack Swartz will take over the quarterback duties. Paith and Swartz threw a combined 10 passes last season.
“It’s one of our big question marks as to how we are going to progress there,” Bosnic said. “That’s going to be important to our success. Zack has a ton of talent and Ronnie brings a lot to the table athletically. I think you will see them both on the field whether they are playing quarterback or not.”
Stabilizing an offensive line that lost 6-2, 285-pound tackle Andrew Mercer, Ross Goldstone and Liam Wolf, will be important in order make the Washington offense run as smoothly as last season. Ian Smith (6-8, 285) and Myckel Brown (6-3, 230) return to the line.
“It’s all about not having any weak links,” Bosnic said.
While Washington is favored to again win the Century Conference, its season might not be determined a success after nine games.
“We have high expectations,” Bosnic said. “One of our goals is always to get back to a championship game. We try to develop habits that will accomplish that goal. It’s a matter of us being disciplined and paying attention to detail. It’s about getting stronger as the year goes on.” n