Wash High’s tumultuous season draws to close
Seton LaSalle's Adam Ottoviano (52) hangs on to Wash High's Jordon West (26) for big yardage in the 2nd quarter at Wash High stadium Friday night.
Wash High's Chase Caldwell (10) tries to get around Seton LaSalle's Mike Kalnas (51), Adam Ottoviano (52) and Billy Jackson (75) for little gain in the 1st quarter at Wash High stadium Friday night.
In Mike Bosnic’s 11 years of coaching high school football, he hasn’t had anything like this season to deal with. The range of highs and lows is unprecedented in his time, and chances are not too many programs have gone through what Washington has.
There was the preseason high of building on a season that saw the Prexies go undefeated before falling to Aliquippa in the WPIAL championship game. There was the low of losing star running back Shai McKenzie in the third week to a season-ending injury and having other key players also suffer bad injuries.
Washington had to deal with not one but two potential ineligibility issues, one resulting in the brief forfeiture of five wins and pushing the Prexies out of the playoffs. Then came renewed life as the PIAA reversed those forfeits.
Unfortunately, Washington couldn’t take advantage of that second chance at the postseason.
Tyler Perone threw for 354 yards and Seton-La Salle hung on to knock off Washington, 35-27, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs Friday night.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way these guys fought to the end,” said Bosnic, talking about both the game and the season. “We were down, and they could’ve easily packed it in and called it a season. That shows the kind of seniors and the kind of kids we had on this team. We fought through so many things. I’m really proud of them.”
Seton-La Salle (8-2) gets a rematch with South Fayette, 49-0 winners over Greensburg Central Catholic. The Lions defeated the Rebels in Week 5, 45-3. Washington’s season ends at 7-3.
When Danzel McKinley-Lewis hauled in a 59-yard touchdown pass from Perone just before the end of the third quarter to put the Rebels ahead, 35-14, it seemed Seton-La Salle had booked its spot in the quarterfinals. Then a funny thing happened. Junior Prexies quarterback Jonathan Spina, with Wash High’s ground game sputtering, took things into his own hands.
Using a mix of passing and rushing the ball, the Prexies went on a five-minute drive capped by Spina’s second touchdown run of the game. A quick three and out from the Rebels and a good punt return by Chase Caldwell gave the Prexies the ball at the Rebels’ 41.
Barely two minutes later, Malik Wells scored his second touchdown of the game, though the extra point was blocked, and it was a one-possession game with 4:01 to play.
The big play of the drive was a reverse wide receiver option that ended with Caldwell connecting with Nathan Swart for a 24-yard completion.
“You’re always worried in this situation,” said Seton-La Salle coach Greg Perry. “We were stuck trying to run the ball a bit or keep passing because we had success passing. Two incompletions stopped the clock, which wasn’t a good thing for us.”
The Rebels were more successful draining the clock on the next drive, but Dequay Broadwater was pushed back on fourth down after having apparently gained enough for the first down, and the Prexies took over on downs. But Spina’s long pass on third down was intercepted, his fourth pick and the Prexies’ sixth turnover of the game, and the Rebels were able to kneel to end the game.
Despite the ending, Spina gave Bosnic reason to be hopeful about his continuing development. Spina threw for 134 yards and rushed for another 43.
“I’m excited about him coming back,” said Bosnic. “He’s really done some really good things already this year, and he’s going to continue getting better. We’ve got a lot of key pieces coming back next year.”
Spina’s contribution helped keep Washington close, as the Rebels were able to shut down the Prexies’ vaunted ground game. Wells and Jordan West, who combined to rush for over 1,000 yards, managed only 77 combined. Arthur Long, with 57 yards on seven carries, was the Prexies’ leading rusher.
“We brought a ninth man into the box, and we haven’t run that all year, so that maybe confused them, getting that safety down in there,” said Perry.
Perone shook off a slow to start to complete 18 of 34 passes. He hit seven different receivers. McKinley-Lewis caught three passes for 111 yards.