WHS school board to meet about Blystone
The Washington School Board will hold a special meeting at noon today in the LGI Room 201 at the high school to further discuss the situation surrounding the status of one of the high school’s football players, Zach Blystone.
At its regular meeting Monday, the board announced it would support Blystone in his attempt to sustain eligibility to play football for the Prexies. The 6-3, 265-pound junior lineman has been turned down in eligibility hearings three times – once by the WPIAL and twice by the PIAA – because those boards ruled his transfer from Charleroi to Washington in August was made for “athletic intent.”
The Blystone family, represented by attorney Joe Francis, sought and received a preliminary injunction to play on the football team at Washington last Friday afternoon. Blystone played in a victory at Brownsville that night.
Now, the Washington School Board will meet again to discuss the situation. Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo, superintendent of Washington, said the board members might be seeking more information on the situation. She said many board members were just made aware of the facts at Monday night’s meeting.
“What has happened since then,” she said, “is that the board members have (received) the information and they want clarified what that information is and how it affects the district and the football program. There was a lot of information to digest in a limited amount of time.”
Supporting Blystone comes at a risk. Football games he plays in would be forfeited if the injunction is lifted.
Head coach Mike Bosnic said “the right thing is being done.”
Dr. DiLorenzo said the district “followed all the procedures” for the Blystone eligibility hearings held by the WPIAL and PIAA, and the school district “supports each and every one of its students.”
Blystone received his preliminary injunction from Common Pleas Judge John F. DiSalle last Friday, and a hearing was originally set for yesterday on whether to make the preliminary injunction permanent. That meeting was postponed and is expected to be held Tuesday.
Dr. Robert Lombardi, executive director of the PIAA, said the organization will appear at that hearing and argue against making the preliminary injunction permanent. If the PIAA is not successful, Lombardi said it will appeal to Commonwealth Court, where the organization has had a high rate of success.
If the PIAA prevails, Blystone would be deemed ineligible to play, Washington would not only be in danger of forfeiting any games in which Blystone has played, but could also draw further sanctions. Blystone’s eligibility for next season could also be affected.
The PIAA has submitted a letter to the district warning of such action, and it was in Dr. DiLorenzo’s possession at Monday’s school board meeting.
Francis said the Blystone family has been trying to move from its previous home in Charleroi for two years but only recently was able to afford it because PennDOT purchased most of the family land for a construction project.