CHARLEROI – Washington High School suffered what could be a devastating loss Friday night in the second quarter of a 66-10 Interstate Conference win over Charleroi.
Star running back Shai McKenzie, who is being recruited by more than 30 NCAA Division I football programs, suffered a right knee injury while making a cut on the turf at Cougar Stadium, going down untouched.
Washington head coach Mike Bosnic fears McKenzie suffered an injury to the ACL in his right knee. McKenzie was sent to the hospital for tests Friday night.
“Right now, they aren’t sure,” said Bosnic. “It didn’t look like a serious knee injury but you never know. No one touched him. It looked like he had a clear path to the end zone and next thing you know, he was on the ground. Whatever the diagnosis is, we are going to face it head on and he will be better no matter what.”
It took several minutes to get McKenzie to the sideline, where he was unable to put any pressure on his injured leg throughout the remainder of the first half.
McKenzie, who broke Brian Davis’ school career rushing record last week, was carted to the Wash High locker room at the half and did not return.
“He’s scared,” said Bosnic. “I don’t think he has ever had a knee injury before and that’s a scary thing to have to go through. We will all be with him every step of the way.”
Prior to the injury, McKenzie was putting on another stellar performance.
He scored on runs of 64 and 90 yards on the Prexies’ first two first plays from scrimmage to give Wash High (3-0, 3-0) a quick 13-0 lead. McKenzie finished with 198 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries.
Despite the big margin of victory, his teammates were concerned only about McKenzie’s health moving forward.
“He’s not only my teammate; he is my best friend,” said Wash High senior Chase Caldwell, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter. “It made me cry because I don’t know how serious it is. He is a leader, and without him, some of us had to step up and be leaders. We have a lot of young guys on the team that couldn’t see us be down as a team, so we had to pick it up. “
Without McKenzie to carry the load, junior Malik Wells was called upon. He responded with 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 72-yard touchdown run shortly after McKenzie was injured.
“Seeing Shai go down was a scary moment for all of us,” said Wells. “Being his backup, I just try to soak everything in he teaches me and be there for him in a moment of need. He works so hard in practice and in the games. I learn every day from him. I just had to help pick up the slack.”
Jordon West added a pair of rushing touchdowns, while Arthur Long and Kurt Adkins also found the end zone on the ground.
“We are a physical team, and I thought we had a very good night up front,” said Bosnic. “Both lines played very well and we set the tone right from the first play.”
The Prexies also forced four turnovers. They allowed only one lengthy drive in the first half and held the Cougars to a 21-yard field goal from Sean Cole.
Charleroi (0-3, 0-3) didn’t find its way into the end zone until late in the third quarter when Brennan Matthews scored on a quarterback sneak.
“We had a solid game plan defensively,” said Caldwell. “We really got on it in practice this week. Coaches stressed a better performance on defense this week and we took it seriously.”
McKenzie’s injury comes at a bad time for Washington. The Prexies host Yough, a 27-22 loser to Jeannette Friday night, then play the Jayhawks on the road in two weeks.
“We just have to stay focused as a team, no matter who is out there,” said Bosnic. “We don’t know exactly how serious it is yet, but if it is we have to stay focused as a group. We took a big step this week. We need to continue that.”