Defending WPIAL champion Washington ready to air it out

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Thursday, August 16, 2018 | 10:00 PM


Mike Bosnic was hired at Washington High School a decade earlier to help bring a winning swagger back to the football program and hopefully become a championship team again following a 1-8 season in 2008.

A decade later, it’s mission accomplished as the Little Prexies returned to the playoffs in 2009 and have only missed the postseason once since.

Then, last fall, the golden icing on the championship cake was achieved as Washington beat Freedom, East Allegheny and Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic in the Class 2A district playoffs before dethroning Steel Valley in the WPIAL finals 37-10 to capture the program’s first title since 2001.

Now the battle to remain on top of the 2A mountain begins with plenty of new names in the lineup.

While Bosnic admits there are lots of holes to fill, he likes the young talent his program has and hopes a taste of a title will drive them to more success.

“We lost a very talented senior class from last year, a lot of experience and leadership,” Bosnic said, “but we have speed, exceptional talent, a winning culture and tradition on our side.”

Four starters return for an offense that averaged more than 42 points. Three are back on a defense that allowed 11 1/2 points per contest a year ago.

One big missing piece is all-conference running back Nick Welsh, who carried the ball 200 times for 2,134 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also averaged more than 23 yards per reception. Junior Dylan Asbury is expected to take over as the feature back.

Those are big numbers to fill indeed, however Wash High is in good hands with the return of junior Zach Swartz. He connected on 101 of 181 passes last fall for 2,009 yards and 28 touchdowns. Swartz, who has a 4.25 GPA, also was the team’s third leading rusher with 400 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

“With Nick being gone, it may mean we will pass more,” Swartz said, “especially since last year we were just getting comfortable relying more on our passing game. But that definitely does not mean our running game is gone.”

Junior Zahmere Robinson returns at wide receiver and defensive back, while junior Gerald Comedy anchors the offensive line at center.

Another starter expected to make a big impact on both sides of the ball is senior wide receiver and free safety Daniel Walker.

“He’s capable of making big plays with great football instincts,” Bosnic said.

Swartz has high expectations for the Little Prexies despite so many new faces.

“We realize that we’re going to need a lot of guys to step up,” Swartz said. “We need to trust them and help them get comfortable. That being said, our expectations coming into this season are no different than any other year.”

Washington joins Beth-Center, Charleroi and Frazier moving to the Century Conference, along with new foes Brownsville, Carmichaels, McGuffey and Southmoreland in the eight-team conference.

“McGuffey will be a nice rivalry game for us to add to the schedule,” Bosnic said.

But the coach of the defending champs made it clear that he expects success again this fall for the Little Prexies.

“Expectations are always very high at Wash High with our 38-game regular-season win streak,” he said. “The hope is to once again compete for a conference championship.”

Schedule

Coach: Mike Bosnic

2017 record: 13-1, 7-0

All-time record: 686-366-56

Date, Opponent, Time

8.24, Laurel Highlands, 7 p.m.

8.31, at Charleroi*, 7 p.m.

9.7, Summit Academy, 7 p.m.

9.14, Brownsville*, 7 p.m.

9.21, at California, 7 p.m.

9.28, at Frazier*, 7 p.m.

10.5, Carmichaels*, 7 p.m.

10.12, at Beth-Center*, 7 p.m.

10.19, Southmoreland*, 7 p.m.

10.26, McGuffey*, 7 p.m.

*Class 2A Century Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Zach Swartz

101-181, 2,009 yards, 28 TDs

Rushing: Nick Welsh*

200-2,134 yards, 33 TDs

Receiving: Isaiah Schoonmaker*

35-747 yards, 14 TDs

*Graduated

Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at drebel@tribweb.com.

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