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Washington Completes Undefeated Season With Win at McGuffey 36-14

Written by: on Saturday, October 26th, 2019

 

Heading into Friday night’s matchup between the McGuffey Highlanders and the Washington Prexies both teams were tied for first in the WPIAL 2A Interstate/Century conference and a lot would be on the line. For starters, both would be undefeated in conference play, meaning the winner would clinch the division title. That, along with the fact that most likely a Washington victory would clinch the first seed in the WPIAL 2A playoffs, while a McGuffey win would most likely give that spot to either Avonworth or Burgettstown. Both teams excelled at the quarterback position the whole year over, through Wash High dual-threat talent Zack Swartz or McGuffey’s strong passer in Marshall Whipkey. Whatever the result, the rivalry was sure to be entertaining, and it did not disappoint.

Starting off in the first quarter, the game couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Wash High on special teams, as the Highlanders would recover the opening kickoff on a Prexies blunder. The Wash High defense stepped up, forcing a sack on 3rd down before intercepting the 4th down attempt in their own redzone.

For Wash High, the offense was humming for the entire first half, as a long pass to Caleb Jackson put the Prexies in the redzone before scoring on another pass to the same name. Wash High would quickly force a punt on the ensuing McGuffey drive, however, a block in the back followed by a fumble would hand the ball back to the Highlanders leaving points on the board to end the first quarter 7-0.

The 2nd quarter would be defined by a long Wash High drive, ending with a pass to yet again to Caleb Jackson in the corner of the endzone to put the Prexies up 14-0 heading into the locker rooms.

Entering the 2nd half, McGuffey had only 16 yards of offense (all of those coming in the 2nd quarter) and would be determined to begin a furious 3rd quarter comeback. The Highlanders received the opening kickoff and would immediately drive down the field and convert on a brilliant 3rd down Philly Special to Jared Johnson to make the score 14-7 in the early 3rd.

Momentum would be quickly changing for the Prexies, and another disastrous special teams moment would play right into their hands, as a high snapped punt recovered by the Highlanders on the Wash High 17, set up an instantaneous CJ Cole TD grab, putting the score at 14-14 still early into the 3rd quarter.

Despite losing the lead and all the momentum in the game, the Washington offense came up big once again on the key drive of the game. For Zack Swartz, it wasn’t anything new, “Just stay calm, keep playing Prexie football. We didn’t get ahead of ourselves, we didn’t start to crumple up or get hard on ourselves, we knew we’d be alright.” Swartz said. Twice on 3rd down on the same drive, Swartz would have to scramble and make the perfect throw, and each time he executed perfectly, leading the Prexies downfield, before Chance Cohen would take it in for 6, changing the game’s momentum.

McGuffey would play right into the Prexies hands on their following drive. After a bad kickoff return had the Highlanders start on their own 16, an errant throw by Marshall Whipkey was batted in the air by Zack Swartz and would be picked off by Michael Allen. Isaiah Edwards expected the quick turnaround, “We just play football, If we’re down or we have adversity, we just pick ourselves up and play football. We have a great group of guys that are ready to go to work every week and prepared for anything at all times” The interception gave the Prexies field position not unlike the position the Highlanders received after the muffed punt, and likewise, the Prexies would put the ball in for 7 once again to go up by two touchdowns, putting the game out of reach for McGuffey.

Another Philly Special pass to Zahmere Robinson would pad the score for Wash High and seal a 36-14 Prexies win and Undefeated Season. For Quarterback Zack Swartz, the Prexies will want to take the playoffs moment-by-moment, “Were going to take one step at a time. Next week is our next home playoff game, I think we’ll take it there.” While for Isaiah Edwards, the game is only a preview of what’s to come, “We see ourselves going to the WPIAL Championship, and don’t see anything less, we come in and work day in and day out and that’s all we can do.”

Takeaways: Despite the score, Wash High had to deal with a large amount of adversity in this matchup. Firstly, injuries hampered much of the defense as Gerald Comedy and Amari Miller were forced to exit the game early, as well as Michael Allen dealing with minor injuries and being forced to rotate in and out of the game. Despite this, the Wash High defense played exceptional against one of the best offenses in the WPIAL. Isaiah Edwards was forced to play both linebacker positions and even rotated in on the defensive line, however, he was still a force in the backfield for the entire night. “It’s very comfortable for me,” Edwards said. “I’m a big backer myself, but also have the god-given ability to run, whenever I’m down on the line, I’m able to use my mobility, and whenever I’m back they can’t get to me because of my speed. I’m comfortable with it, the coaches are comfortable with it, and I just do anything for my team to win.” Zakhi Marshall had a career night as well with 2 Tackles for loss. If the Prexies overcome the injury bug, and are able to avoid costly turnovers and penalties, as well as improve on special teams, Wash High should be the team to beat in the WPIAL.

What’s Next?: Wash High will most likely take the top spot in the WPIAL 2A Playoffs and have a home matchup next week while McGuffey will most likely have a home game as well with a tougher matchup.

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