Jeannette, Washington: One team will take the fifth
Khalid Blount attempts to sack Yough quarterback Tyler Donahue last Friday. Wash High’s defense must play a key role in tonight’s game.
Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
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Wash High’s Nate Swart will get more opportunities to catch the football when Wash High faces Jeannette tonight.
Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
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It was supposed to be their week, a reunion of sorts for two competitive friends: Damone Morton of Jeannette and Shai McKenzie of Washington.
The two have been friends for some time and played against each other when Morton lived in Washington and was a member of the North Washington youth team. McKenzie played for East Washington. They were teammates on Washington’s eighth- and ninth-grade teams before Morton moved back to Jeannette.
This year, both players changed their numbers to 5, which stood for the fifth week of the season, when Wash High and Jeannette would play again.
When the game kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. in front of a large crowd at Jeannette and a television audience on Root Sports, only Morton will be on the field. McKenzie, Wash High’s outstanding tailback and one of the nation’s top recruits, was lost for the season two weeks ago when he tore an ACL.
“I think the hype for the game crashed (when McKenzie got hurt),” said Morton, a 6-3, 190-pound wide receiver who is being recruiting by many major colleges, including one of McKenzie’s suitors, Georgia Tech.
“It wasn’t going to be that fun anymore. I talked to him after. It’s something that could happen to anyone.”
Both teams are 4-0 and tied with Mt. Pleasant at the top of the Class AA Interstate Conference standings. Wash High won last year’s game, 18-15.
“Anytime you get a game between Jeannette and Washington, you know there is going to be spectacular athletes on the field,” said WHS head coach Mike Bosnic. “I’m excited, and I know the kids are.”
McKenzie was averaging 18.1 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns before the injury. Morton is averaging 11.6 yards per carry, 16.8 yards per receptions and has seven touchdowns.
“Last year, they talked,” said Jeannette head coach Roy Hall. “I think they tweeted. After the game, it was all talking. They are both competitive.”
Morton is sure to play a major role in the Jayhawks’ offense. The multi-threat senior has 253 total yards on a team that has many options on offense.
“Jeannette has special athletes. It’s like you see every year,” Bosnic said. “They have a lot of speed and are well-coached.”
Jeannette is average 46 points per game, but Hall is concerned about the 22 points his defense is allowing each week. Jeannette has given up 20 or more points in all four games, and is coming off a 47-20 win over Brownsville.
“When you tell someone that I didn’t think we played well after a 47-20 win, they say, ‘What?’” Hall said. “We’ve only played half a game so far. We haven’t played to where I expect them to.”
Washington showed off a passing game in last week’s win over Yough, and is incorporating more players into the running game.
“For us, our defense has to improve,” he said. “We have to improve on our tackling. If we can win the battle up front, we can win the game.”
If that happens, it will be win No. 5.
After Monessen snapped Clairton’s 66-game winning streak last week, Fort Cherry would like to extend that losing streak to two games. To do that, the Rangers need a strong game from running back Koltan Kobrys, who is second in the WPIAL with 769 rushing yards. Quarterback Matt Heslin, who has passed for 15 touchdowns and 613 yards, also is a key player. Lamont Wade leads a group of Clairton running backs that has accounted for 749 combined yards. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday
The battle for first place in the Class AA Century Conference comes down to the brilliant passing game of South Fayette against the balanced attack of Seton-La Salle. Both teams are 4-0. Tyler Perone has actually passed for more yards than South Fayette’s Brett Brumbaugh, 837-681, but Brumbaugh and most of the other starters did not play much in last week’s 74-7 win over Burgettstown. Justin Watson and Conner Beck have combined for 25 receptions and seven touchdowns. Eleven different Lions have caught passes in the first four games. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday.
The Bucs look to stretch their winning streak to five games – including a forfeit over Imani Christian – when travelling to Brentwood for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday. Kaleb Susko leads the Bucs with 441 passing yards and five touchdowns. Miles Wiliamson has a team-high 18 catches for 232 yards (12.9 average). Brentwood splits its running game among three backs, who have run for between 127 and 145 yards. Quarterback Connor McWilliams has completed 54 percent of his passes for 659 yards and four TDs.