South/East Xtra: Interstate Conference edge goes to winner in battle of unbeatens -- Jeannette vs. Washington
Senior lineman Rikwon Moore, right, going against Burgettstown's Joe Grayson in a game last season, plays a key role for undefeated Washington.
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Roy Hall remembers the last time his Jeannette football team played Washington all too well.
It was in the sixth week of the 2009 season, Hall's first year as the Jayhawks head coach, and Jeannette lost at Washington, 24-16. That started a three-game losing streak to end the season and caused Jeannette to miss the playoffs for the first time in 16 years.
"It's not a good memory," Hall said.
Three years later, Jeannette will have a chance to get its revenge as it again travels to Washington for a key WPIAL Class AA Interstate Conference game Friday night at Wash High Stadium. Both teams are 4-0 overall and in the conference, Washington returning to the Interstate this season following a two-year foray to the Century Conference.
"Jeannette has a heckuva team and we feel like we're a pretty good team, too," Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. "It should be a really good game. I think everyone is looking forward to it."
Both teams have blown their opponents away so far, Jeannette winning by an average margin of 44.3 points and Washington's victories coming by an average margin of 34 points. The Jayhawks are scoring 50.8 points a game and the Little Prexies 44.0.
While both teams have plenty of offensive weapons, none has shined more brightly than Washington senior running back Shai McKenzie, who has rushed for 760 yards on just 49 carries. That works out to an amazing 15.5 yards a carry.
McKenzie rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries last Friday in a 42-12 win at Yough and was so impressive that Cougars coach Mark Crovak told reporters after the game, "That kid, he'll be playing on Sundays."
Whether McKenzie winds up playing in the NFL remains to be seen. A 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior, he had a number of scholarship offers in hand before the season started and they have continued to pour in throughout September.
"I'm getting texts and calls about him every day," Bosnic said. "All the schools that see his highlight video fall in love with him. He's big and he's fast, and he's a bright kid, too. He's not the type of kid who comes around very often. He's a very special player and he can score from anywhere on the field at any time. He's just terrific."
Although Jeannette may not have a player the caliber of McKenzie, it has more than adequately replaced a star player in Demetrious Cox, the quarterback who led the Jayhawks to the WPIAL Class AA championship game last season. Cox is now a safety at Michigan State, sitting out this season as a redshirt.
Senior Seth Miller won a three-man competition for the starting quarterback spot in training camp and is leading a balanced offense. He has thrown for 309 yards and three touchdowns while completing 11 of 22 passes and not being intercepted.
Eleven players have scored touchdowns for Jeannette already this season.
"Seth has really done a tremendous job of stepping in as the quarterback," Hall said. "He's an outstanding athlete. Not only can he throw but he has good speed, so defenses have to worry about the run. He had big shoes to fill coming into the season and he has filled them well."
Meanwhile Shavonta Craft and Jordan Edmunds have split the bulk of the rushing duties for the Jayhawks. Craft has been the more explosive of the two, gaining 339 yards on 21 carries (16.1 yards per carry, surpassing McKenzie). But Edmunds is no slouch with 344 on 33 (10.4 yards per carry).
• Game: Jeannette at Washington.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
• Where: Wash High Stadium.
• Skinny: The winner takes a big step toward winning Interstate Conference title.