The city football series between Washington and Trinity high schools is back on.
For one year.
The once-thriving rivalry, if not dead, had at least been lulled into a deep slumber when the series was stopped following the game in 1999.
After 20 years of following each other from a distance, Trinity and Washington will play this season, Oct. 9, in a nonconference game at Hiller Field.
The game came about because of a series of odd circumstances, including the coronavirus pandemic, an open date on the schedule for Washington and Uniontown’s decision to not field a football team this fall.
When the WPIAL released football schedules for its members in January, Washington was given an open date Oct. 9 because of an odd number of teams in the Class 2A Century Conference. The Little Prexies were the only team in the WPIAL that did not have a game scheduled for that weekend. Washington athletic director Mike Bosnic said he had been searching for an Oct. 9 opponent for months, even advertising the opening in other states but without success.
Then, when Uniontown’s School Board voted earlier this month to not field teams in the “contact” sports of football and soccer, it left Trinity with an open date in football and two in both boys and girls soccer. Trinity was to play a conference football game Oct. 9 at Uniontown and the cancellation had Hillers athletic director Ricci Rich scrambling to find an opponent.
It didn’t take long for Rich and Bosnic to work out the details for a game that will give both teams a full seven-game schedule. The WPIAL shortened the football season from nine to seven games last month.
“It’s a relief,” Bosnic said. “The open date has been a big concern. We worked hard to find a game. It was frustrating. I’m glad that something worked out.”
The added home game for Trinity means the Hillers will play only two road games, including just one – Sept. 25 at McKeesport – in the season’s first six weeks.
Under current guidelines, no spectators are permitted at high school sporting events in Pennsylvania because of the pandemic, and that was one reason, Rich says, the game was scheduled for Hiller Field instead of Wash High Stadium. Trinity offers a live streaming video service of all its home football games.
“We went back and forth on where to play the game,” Rich said. “We even considered playing it at W&J, a neutral site, but they aren’t playing football this fall and there were a lot of logistical problems to work out. Mike was willing to come over here and play, and with our live stream everybody who wants to can see the game. We have the capability to put the radio feed on top of the video, and it’s just like watching the game on live TV.”
Washington leads the series 44-16-3. The Prexies have won each of the last five meetings and 11 of the previous 12.
For decades, the game was the most anticipated for each team, but after a 20-year hiatus it makes for a unique situation that did not slip past Rich.
“These kids who will be playing weren’t even born in 1999,” he pointed out. “I know the kids want to play the game because they know each other, but it’s not the rivalry that it was when I was a kid. They haven’t played each other. Even in the youth leagues they don’t have a lot of contact.
“But I’m glad we were able to get it scheduled. I didn’t want the kids to lose another game and another opportunity.”