The season after being on top can be the hardest. Washington football coach Mike Bosnic and the Prexies now know as much.
After losing an unflinching senior class, which had one playoff heartbreak after another before winning the WPIAL Class 2A championship in 2017, there came a summer that wasn’t as productive as Bosnic envisioned Hand, foot and mouth disease wiped out training camp and the Prexies’ first scrimmage in 2018.
Then came one of the most lopsided losses in Washington’s recent history – a 64-33 thumping at the hands of Charleroi – that emphatically ended a 39-game regular-season winning streak for the Prexies that dated back to 2013.
But as Charleroi proudly rang the victory bell at Myron Pottios Stadium that Friday night on the final day of August, Washington answered the bell the rest of the way.
“Last year, we faced a lot of adversity,” Bosnic said. “It was pretty tough. I was happy and felt good with how much we improved throughout the season.”
Improving to the tune of running the table for the remainder of the regular season, and scoring more than 40 points in every game, put Washington in a position it had been accustomed to – one of the favorites entering the WPIAL playoffs.
With a solid senior class returning this year, the Prexies will likely be back in that same spot for the postseason. But they will be hoping for much more than the quarterfinal exit of a season ago.
“I think we have a good group of kids, a real solid core of seniors, who we can be successful,” Bosnic said. “We have to have accountability and leadership out of those seniors.”
Washington’s success might hinge on its quarterback-wide receiver connection of Zack Swartz and Zahmere Robinson.
A 6-1, 170-pounder, Robinson hauled in 53 receptions for 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns in a breakout junior season.
“Zahmere was just great last season,” Bosnic said. “He can do so many different things in every aspect of the game. He is a gamechanger and one of the best athletes in the area. I think it just came down to us realizing and planning to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.”
Robinson averaged an impressive 21 yards per reception.
Swartz used the big-play threat of Robinson and since-graduated Dan Walker to pass for 2,285 yards, good for ninth in the WPIAL, and 28 touchdowns. He also ran for more than 700 yards and 13 scores.
Swartz will try to have a similar season behind what should be another big, strong offensive line, another thing Washington has grown accustomed to having over the years. Gerald Comedy (6-3, 305) returns at center, Zakhi Marshall (6-0, 285), who was last year’s Interstate Conference lineman MVP at guard and tackle Chase Mitchell (6-5, 340).
That kind of size and experience on the line could lead to a big season for running back Dylan Asbury, who was cleared to return in mid-July after suffering a torn ACL in a game against Southmoreland last season.
“The sky is the limit for Dylan,” Bosnic said. “We are going to bring him along at the right pace, making sure he is healthy. He was having a great season for us last year before injuring his knee in the second-to-last game of the regular season. (The offensive line) is very talented, strong and now mostly seniors. I’m really excited to see if they can be dominant, and to do that they are going to have to be aggressive.”
Bosnic is hopeful Isaiah Edwards, Caleb Jackson and others can stabilize what was a suspect defense, which allowed 23.3 points per game last season, the most by the Prexies since 2010.
“We have to make a commitment to be in great shape and play for each other,” Bosnic said. “Every year, we are the team everybody wants to beat. We have a target on us.”