Even with star-studded senior class gone, Washington still in contention in Class 2A

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Monday, August 24, 2020 | 11:56 PM


One of the things Washington coach Mike Bosnic has been repeatedly drilling into his team in the run-up to the season is the importance of hand washing.

It wasn’t a trick designed to get players to focus on the fundamentals, like how UCLA coaching legend John Wooden used to show his players how to properly put on their socks on the first day of practice.

It was a necessary safety measure as Bosnic undertook the unenviable task of coaching football during a pandemic.

“I never imagined in my wildest dreams we would be facing what we are right now,” Bosnic said. “We always have talked to the kids about hygiene and nutrition. I guess now, we’re just stressing it even more.”

Paying attention to detail has served the Prexies well over the years, as they’re firmly entrenched as perennial WPIAL championship contenders in Class 2A.

Whether they’ll continue that trend this season hinges upon how well they replace a deep and talented senior class from a season ago.

Washington lost seven first-team all-conference players to graduation, including offensive player of the year Zack Swartz and lineman of the year Zakhi Marshall.

Swartz threw for 1,852 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for 1,116 yards and 26 scores. Zahmere Robinson compiled 1,487 yards from scrimmage and scored 19 touchdowns. Gerald Comedy, Chase Mitchell, Isaiah Edwards, Caleb Jackson and others made invaluable contributions.

All told, the last four years, the class went 47-5 overall and 27-1 in conference competition.

“One of the most successful classes ever at Wash High,” Bosnic said. “Just a great group of kids, great leaders. It’s going to be really tough to replace them.”

The decorated senior class saw its Washington career end with a loss that was, at the time, an excruciating setback. After rolling through their first 13 opponents, the Prexies dropped a 28-6 decision to Avonworth in the WPIAL championship game.

A few months of hindsight have given Bosnic some perspective on the loss.

“It was just disappointing that we picked the worst time possible to have breakdowns and really have our worst performance of the year,” Bosnic said. “But when you step back and reflect on everything that group of seniors accomplished and what great leaders they were just to get us to where we were, when you think about all those things, it was a successful season.”

As the Prexies try to put together another successful season, they have a strong foundation on which to rebuild.

Quarterback is a question mark, but a handful of high-end skill players return.

Start with a pair of talented juniors, Tayshawn Levy and Brandon Patterson. Levy ran for 450 yards last season and the 6-foot-3 Patterson had 279 receiving yards and intercepted four passes on defense.

Another strong senior class has returning starters sprinkled throughout the Washington lineup.

Zack Doman and Steven Patterson are back on the offensive line. Defensive end Shaliek Cox had four sacks last season. Mike Allen and Amari Miller are cornerstones of the linebacking corps. Asa Charnik returns in the secondary.

“At this point, we’ve been really successful over the last seven years,” Bosnic said. “We’ve kind of set a standard and some expectations. We’ve been fortunate enough that we’ve had kids who have felt it’s really important for them to win and carry on the tradition. I’m excited. I’m excited for this next group to have their time to step up and be the leaders now.”

Schedule

Coach: Mike Bosnic

2019 record: 13-1, 7-0 in Class 2A Century Conference

All-time record: 710-369-56

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, at McGuffey*, 7

9.18, Waynesburg*, 7

9.25, at Chartiers-Houston*, 7

10.2, Beth-Center*, 7

10.9, at Trinity, 7

10.16, at Charleroi*, 7

10.23, Frazier*, 7

*Class 2A Century Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Zack Swartz*

110-174, 1,852 yards, 22 TDs

Rushing: Zack Swartz*

143-1,116 yards, 26 TDs

Receiving: Zahmere Robinson*

40-670 yards, 9 TDs

*Graduated

Fast facts

• Washington’s trip to the finals last season moved the school into a tie with Rochester for the fourth-most championship game appearances in WPIAL history with 14. The top three schools are Aliquippa (30), Clairton (19) and Jeannette (15).

• Washington scored 483 points in the regular season last year, second-most in the WPIAL behind West Greene (502). Washington’s average of 48.3 points per game was actually down from its regular season average of 52.3 points per game in 2018.

• Despite massive graduation losses, Washington returns players who scored 129 points last season. Fifteen WPIAL schools scored fewer than 129 points as a team last year.

• Pandemic-related schedule changes have allowed Washington to rekindle an old rivalry when the Prexies make the short trip to Trinity on Oct. 9. Originally, Washington had a bye that week and Trinity was scheduled to face Uniontown, which subsequently canceled its fall sports season. The teams haven’t faced off in 20 years.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at jbombulie@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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