A lot of fans and media outlets seemed to have overlooked the Washington High School football team.
Still undefeated and advancing to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals Friday, the Little Prexies pretty much have played in the shadows of powerhouses Aliquippa and South Fayette since the start of the season.
"To be honest, I have heard that all year," Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. "I believe Aliquippa is as good as they've been advertised. South Fayette also has a good program and has been very successful.
"But we've been overlooked all year long. I don't think a lot of people outside our team picked us to win our own conference."
Hoarding all of the attention and most of the respect away from the Little Prexies (11-0) to this point in the season, Aliquippa (11-0) and South Fayette (11-0) have been considered the top two Class AA teams in both the WPIAL and, in some cases, the state all year.
Many have even prematurely billed a possible WPIAL championship game between the Quips and Lions weeks before the playoffs even started.
"I guess we have kind of fallen under the radar a little bit," Bosnic said. "And we kind of have a chip on our shoulder."
Nevertheless, No. 3-seed Washington will face No. 2 South Fayette in a Class AA semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Chartiers Valley.
"There are a lot of great programs in Class AA," Bosnic said. "South Fayette is a great program and has a great team this year. They're really impressive with the way they throw the ball around.
"They have a potent passing attack and have weapons all over the field. They are very good defensively, too. We're going to have to limit their passing and not make mistakes against them."
The Little Prexies are coming off a 33-17 quarterfinal victory against Seton-La Salle and have outscored opponents by an average of 44.5-10 in 11 games.
"That was another great win for us," Bosnic said. "Everyone is excited about moving on and the kids are excited, too. We beat a really good football team last week."
The last time Washington lost a game was last season when Aliquippa ended the Little Prexies' playoff run in the quarterfinals with a 36-6 decision.
Entering this season, the Post-Gazette had Washington listed as the No. 5 team in its Class AA preseason rankings, and Bosnic was confident that his team would live up to and possibly exceed those expectations.
"I did have high expectations coming into the season," he said. "I knew we had a talented group of guys coming back. I don't think anybody expected us to do as well as we have so far."
By the end of the regular season, Wash High was ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL by the Post-Gazette and is now rated the No. 5 Class AA team in the state.
The Little Prexies cruised through their first four opponents during the regular season and didn't see its toughest challenge until Week 5 against Jeannette. Washington topped the Jayhawks, 18-15, scoring on a blocked punt late in the game and never looked back en route to winning the Interstate Conference crown before beating Shady Side Academy and Seton-La Salle in the first two rounds of the WPIAL playoffs.
"The guys definitely want to prove to themselves that they're a good team and want to prove that they can play in an elite category," Bosnic said. "I think they've grown with confidence through the season and have come to realize how good they are right now."
Bosnic also has noticed how the community of Washington has rallied behind his team.
"This program has a long tradition," Bosnic said. "The people in the community have really been excited to see Wash High football among the elite again. The excitement has grown week to week."
• Game: Washington (11-0) vs. South Fayette (11-0).
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Chartiers Valley High School.
• Skinny: Two of the three remaining undefeated teams in Class AA face off.hsfootball