Focused Wash High shuts out Waynesburg
WAYNESBURG – At last, at long last, there was no talk of eligibility, forfeits, appeals, injunctions or hearings for the Washington High School football team.
It was finally a Friday night of only blocking and tackling – two things the Little Prexies do very well.
Wash High’s offense generated a few big plays, the defense registered its first shutout of the season and the Prexies broke open a close game with two third-quarter touchdowns for a 27-0 victory over Waynesburg in an Interstate Conference regular-season finale.
The win capped an emotional and bizarre week for Wash High. It began with the forfeiture of a victory over Brownsville for the use of what the WPIAL ruled was an ineligible player. The next day, the Prexies were stripped of five more victories by the WPIAL over an eligibility case involving senior wide receiver Quorteze Levy. Washington appealed to the PIAA, and Thursday afternoon the five wins and a spot in next week’s WPIAL Class AA playoffs were restored.
Just turning their attention to on-field activity was a welcomed change for the Prexies, who officially ended the regular season with a 6-2 conference record and 7-2 overall mark. They will host a first-round playoff game.
“A big relief, for sure,” Wash High coach Mike Bosnic said. “I told the kids that I’m proud of the season so far, especially when you consider all the adversity we’ve faced. We fought through it. People don’t realize that in addition to all the recent stuff, we’ve had an exorbitant amount of injuries. We’ve had three ACL tears and shoulder injuries. We’re down 11 guys.”
Wash High was never down against Waynesburg (3-5, 4-5), a vastly improved group under second-year coach Russ Moore.
Wash High scored on its second offensive play, when tailback Malik Wells rambled 58 yards for a touchdown and 7-0 lead. The play was somewhat befitting of the Prexies’ season. On second-and-eight, Wells appeared stopped for a short gain. Somehow, he kept driving and broke out of the pack and outran Waynesburg’s secondary.
Just when you think the Prexies are stopped, they keep going.
“We’ve overcome a lot. I believe what doesn’t break you will make you better,” Bosnic said. “I also told the guys we have to play a lot better next week if we’re going to experience a home playoff win.”
Wash High’s offense bogged down after the opening score, but the Prexies’ defense delivered a break that set up their next score.
After forcing a Wash High punt early in the second quarter, Waynesburg fumbled on the next play and the Prexies’ Chase Caldwell recovered at the Raiders’ 15-yard line. Five plays later, Wells, who lined up at fullback on the play, scored his second touchdown on a three-yard plunge off left tackle. Jonathan Spina’s extra-point kick hit the left upright, leaving the score at 13-0.
Caldwell also had an interception that thwarted a Waynesburg drive in the fourth quarter and teamed with defensive end Arthur Long to shut down Waynesburg’s running game that produced two 100-yard rushers in an upset of Jeannette last week.
“(Long) and Caldwell played a heck of a game defensively,” Moore said. “Our base offense is running at the defensive end, and Long blew that up. And when we tried to run around him, Caldwell ran us down.”
Wash High broke the game open in the third quarter. Spina, the Prexies’ quarterback, scrambled for a 69-yard touchdown run down the left sideline on a third-and-nine play.
On the third play of Wash High’s next possession, Spina threw a perfect deep pass to Levy, who was closely covered by Waynesburg’s Jack Fudala. Levy outwrestled Fudala for the ball and a raced to the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown. Wells made it 27-0 by throwing a halfback pass to Spina for a two-point conversion.
“The second half, we played Wash High football. We controlled the line of scrimmage,” said Caldwell, who caught two passes for 56 yards. “We faced a lot of adversity this year. Every week it was something different. But we finally got back to Wash High football.”
Waynesburg, which was held to 77 rushing yards, had a chance to avoid the shutout when it reached the Wash High 23-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but Caldwell’s interception ended the drive.
“We have to learn how to win,” Moore said. “I’m not satisfied with a 4-5 season, but everyone we played made the comment afterward that we’re improved from last year.”