With star QB leading way, Washington looks to peak at right time

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Sunday, August 21, 2022 | 12:01 PM


Last year, the Washington football team was a case study in peaking at the wrong time.

On the morning of Sept. 25, Washington was on top of its game: undefeated, having outscored its five opponents 237-40. That included blowout wins over perennial Class A power Clairton in a nonconference matchup and Chartiers-Houston, a playoff team, in a Century Conference clash.

But then cracks started to develop in the dam.

It began with key injuries to playmakers Anthony Adkins and Ruben Gordon.

Then, because of covid shutdowns related to both the Washington program and its opponents, the team played exactly one game between Sept. 25 and Oct. 28. There were two forfeit wins, a cancellation and a shutout of Charleroi before a traditional rivalry matchup with McGuffey in the regular season finale Oct. 29.

Washington won that game, 41-34, but suffered more injuries in a performance that wasn’t exactly sharp.

The playoffs began the following week, and Washington was quickly bounced by New Brighton in overtime.

“Covid issues every week. Seven, eight guys quarantining,” coach Mike Bosnic said. “We kind of got out of shape and off track.

“It really stung last year because I thought — I knew — we had a really good football team. We had worked really hard in the offseason, and we had things rolling.”

This will be ancient history by the time the ball is kicked for this season’s opener, of course, but it’s worth rehashing for one reason.

Bosnic doesn’t want his returning players to forget about the way last season ended. Even if a lot of the circumstances that led to the disappointing finish were beyond their control, he wants them to be determined to right a wrong.

“I think that’s going to determine what kind of team we have,” Bosnic said. “If they’re focused and motivated by the way we kind of let things slip through our hands last year, I think we have the makings of a really special football team.

“But that’s what it’s going to come down to: our focus and our attitude and what we’re going to do when we face adversity. Because last year, when we faced adversity, we didn’t get the job done.”

The biggest reason for optimism in Washington might be the return of star quarterback Davoun Fuse.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Rutgers recruit threw 11 touchdown passes against no interceptions last season and scored 12 times on the ground, earning Century Conference MVP honors. He’ll play defense in college, but, for now, he’s one of the biggest difference-makers under center in the WPIAL.

“His combination of size, speed and athleticism, it’s something you don’t get to coach very often,” Bosnic said.

Washington will have to replace a handful of talented graduated seniors, of course. Running back Tayshwn Levy was a dangerous big-play threat, Mario Griffin was the conference defensive player of the year and Cameron Carter-Green was voted the conference’s top lineman.

But the cupboard is nowhere near bare. Carlos Harper, a 6-2, 200-pound senior who made all conference as a kick returner last season, and Gordon, a 6-2, 160-pound junior who was an all-conference receiver, have massive playmaking potential.

Junior defensive back Zxavian Willis was an all-conference player last year as well. Junior Zach Welsh is an explosive ballcarrier and sideline-to-sideline presence on defense.

The line will be led by Semaj Fuse, Davoun’s 6-3, 248-pound “little brother,” a sophomore who already has scholarship offers from Rutgers and Akron.

Phillip Patterson and Joel Rush also return as experienced Iinemen.

Washington hasn’t won a playoff game in two years, and the last time that happened was 2009-10. This team has the talent to end that drought, a long drought by Washington’s lofty standards.

“The last two years, we kind of fell down here,” Bosnic said. “I would hope the guys are hungry to get back to winning some playoffs games.”

Washington

Coach: Mike Bosnic

2021 record: 9-1, 6-0 in Class 2A Century Conference

All-time record: 724-373-56

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 Monessen, 7

9.2 at Clairton, 7

9.9 at Serra Catholic, 7

9.16 Greensburg Central Catholic, 7

9.23 at Brentwood*, 7

9.30 Waynesburg*, 7

10.7 at Sto-Rox*, 7

10.14 Charleroi*, 7

10.21 at Keystone Oaks*, 7

10.28 McGuffey*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Davoun Fuse

34-52, 713 yards, 11 TDs, 0 INTs

Rushing: Tayshawn Levy*

60-699, 8 TDs

Receiving: Carlos Harper

8-166, 2 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• The Century Conference had a significant facelift in the offseason with Brentwood, Keystone Oaks and Sto-Rox replacing Chartiers-Houston, Beth-Center and Frazier. Washington and Sto-Rox, perennial WPIAL powers, last met in a series of Class 2A crossover games in 2016-17. Washington won both games by a combined score of 117-36.

• Washington is fourth in all-time wins among active WPIAL programs with 724, behind only Jeannette (767), Aliquippa (756) and • Castle (754).

• Washington has won seven WPIAL championships, its most recent five years ago (2017) and its first 105 years ago (1917).

• Washington played only two road games last season. It defeated Jefferson-Morgan, 60-0, and Waynesburg, 57-14. The opponents for two other scheduled road contests — Beth-Center and Frazier — forfeited.

Note: Due to publishing scheduling conflicts, the preview for Century Conference team Charleroi will appear on Trib HSSN later this week.

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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