Prexies pass on intimidation
Washington will be counting on players like Mijerean Witcher (7) to provide solid defense against Aliquippa Friday.
Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
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Perhaps Darius Spinks doesn’t have a newspaper subscription.
Or spend much time perusing the Internet.
Whatever the reason, Spinks, who’s a senior defensive back on the Washington High School football team, was unfazed by the task of slowing one of the area’s preeminent passing games, which the Prexies did during Friday’s 26-14 win over South Fayette in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals.
Spinks, Josh Wise and Mijerean Witcher forced South Fayette quarterback Brett Brumbaugh, the WPIAL’s leading passer, into two interceptions – on his first and last attempts – and kept his completion percentage 27 points below normal.
“We had wanted to go against them all week … all year we’ve been talking about facing them,” Spinks said. “Feels good to finally beat them.”
The win puts No. 2 Wash High in the WPIAL Class AA championship game at Heinz Field, where the Prexies will play top-seeded Aliquippa Friday at 5 p.m.
Wash High wasted little time frustrating Brumbaugh, as Thomas Cherry tipped a pass attempt on the first play of the game and Rhamir Thomas pulled it down.
South Fayette managed a 2-yard pass, a total of five yards on two runs and three incompletions for the rest of the opening quarter before finding some success late in the first half; Brumbaugh completed four of five passes over two touchdown drives in the second quarter for 116 yards.
But take those away, and Wash High limited the WPIAL’s best quarterback to 122 yards on 7-of-22 passing, with no touchdowns and two picks.
“We never got that offense in gear,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said.
Wash High held South Fayette, which came into the game averaging seven touchdowns per game, scoreless in the second half, in part because the Prexies were able to rush Brumbaugh.
“I expected to put pressure on them because I knew our defense would make plays up front,” said Spinks, who, midway through the fourth quarter, made one of the game’s signature plays.
With South Fayette facing second-and-10 from its own 42-yard line following an 18-yard completion from Brumbaugh to wide receiver Zach Challingsworth, Spinks had man-to-man coverage on Justin Watson, who was running a wheel route.
Spinks, who studied tape all week of the Lions’ passing game, jumped with Watson and came down with the interception, which allowed Wash High (12-0) to run more than six minutes off the clock, never giving the ball back to South Fayette.
“Our kids worked extremely hard all week long, and they were focused,” said Wash High coach Mike Bosnic, whose defense has not allowed more than two touchdowns in a game all season. “They came out and did a great job. I have a great defensive coordinator in Chet Henderson, and my assistant coaches worked hard. I’m just so proud of the kids because they worked hard all week and came out and executed.”
But it wasn’t just offense where Wash High gained a few tactical advantages.
After watching Beaver Falls running back Damian Rawl power his way to 182 yards during the Lions’ 35-21 win in the Class AA semifinals, Wash High relied heavily on Shai McKenzie – no shocker there – and ran plenty between the tackles, the same as Beaver Falls.
“We watched films a lot,” McKenzie said. “Beaver Falls ran (downhill) on them a lot, and we knew what we had to do.
“We like to power the ball. We made it happen.”
More adjustments will be necessary against Aliquippa, the team that eliminated Wash High from the playoffs last season while holding McKenzie to zero yards during a 36-6 win for the Quips in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals.
Just like South Fayette, Aliquippa, which has crushed everyone this season, poses many problems. But Wash High doesn’t plan on being intimidated at this stage of the season, either.
“It’s a lot of motivation,” McKenzie said of the rematch with Aliquippa. “We know they beat us last year, but we’re a new team. They’re a new team. It’s a new year.”