Avonworth stands in the way of 8th WPIAL title for Washington
Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 8:42 PM
After winning the 700th game in school history earlier this season, Washington will try for another milestone Saturday — an eighth WPIAL football title.
The Prexies (13-0) will take on Avonworth (13-0) at noon at Norwin.
A victory would also mean a 48th win for the senior class, the most for any four-year group in the school’s long history.
“We have a really good group of seniors who have really worked hard,” said Prexies coach Mike Bosnic. “They have good leadership and Saturday they get to play for a championship.”
Meanwhile, the Antelopes will be seeking their first outright WPIAL title. Avonworth tied Union Area, 13-13, in the 1959 WPIAL title game at Geneva College’s Reeves Stadium. That won’t be repeated Saturday because of the overtime procedures.
A lawsuit brought on by the family of Avonworth running back and Central Catholic transfer Kyros Thorpe requested that the senior wide receiver be allowed to play Saturday was withdrawn Thursday morning.
Thorpe has sat out the playoffs because of a PIAA rule that prohibits transfers after sophomore year from performing in the postseason for the receiving school.
Even without Thorpe, the Antelopes are coming off a 41-14 semifinal victory against Riverside in a game that Avonworth broke the game open with a pair of touchdowns in the first five minutes of the second half.
“I feel we made some mistakes in the first half,” Antelopes coach Duke Johncour said. “We threw a couple of interceptions and it wasn’t a clean half. But we put it all together in the second half.”
“They will be a tough challenge for us,” Bosnic said. “They have strong offensive and defensive people on both sides of the ball. It’ll be tough.”
The winner will enter the PIAA playoffs on Nov. 29 or 30 against the winner of Friday’s game between Wilmington and Ridgway-Johnsonburg.
While Saturday’s game won’t be played in a major stadium, the teams are happy to be there.
Said Johncour: “As for Heinz, it’s always nice to play in that venue. A lot of people use the phrase “Highway to Heinz.” It’s a neat situation and I’m sure there’s a level of frustration in that regard. It could be a problem if the weather isn’t great at Heinz, and it’s nice to look at the Jumbotron, but we’ll do our preparation and make the most of it.”
Jax Miller has made the most of his opportunities this season, rushing for 1,939 yards and scoring 152 points. Quarterback Park Penrod has thrown for 1,851 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Washington’s dual-threat quarterback Zach Swartz has thrown for 1,820 yards and run for 1,031 yards, 14 extra points and has tallied 170 points. His 6,172 career passing yards puts him 15th in WPIAL history.
“He’s been a great player for us, a special player,” Bosnic said. “He’s very athletic and very intelligent. He’s No. 1 in his class and he’s being scouted by the Ivy League and the Patriot League.”
The contribution of Zahmere Robinson can’t be minimized.
After top running back Dylan Asbury went down with a knee injury in the preseason, Robinson has stepped up and played a variety of offensive positions for the Prexies. He has caught 39 passes for 670 yards, rushed for 817 yards and scored 116 points.
If Washington wins, an eighth title would put the school sixth all-time in WPIAL annals, tied with Rochester. The Prexies are 44-27-1 all-time in WPIAL playoff games, with the tie coming against Johnstown, 0-0, in the 1917 championship game.
Avonworth, 15-17-1 in the WPIAL postseason, lost the Class A title game to Clairton in 2014.