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Running backs to be showcased in Interstate Conference matchup

Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review - Mt. Pleasant quarterback Ryan Gumbita runs versus Jeannette during their October 5, 2012 contest at McKee Stadium in Jeannette.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Eric Schmadel  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Mt. Pleasant quarterback Ryan Gumbita runs versus Jeannette during their October 5, 2012 contest at McKee Stadium in Jeannette.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Yough's Mike Reuss (10) comes up with a big defensive play and stops Mt. Pleasant's Tim Hostetler (16) from reaching the end zone during the first half of Mt. Pleasant's contest against Yough at Viking Stadium in Mt. Pleasant on Friday September 28, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders  |  Daily Courier</em></div>Yough's Mike Reuss (10) comes up with a big defensive play and stops Mt. Pleasant's Tim Hostetler (16) from reaching the end zone during the first half of Mt. Pleasant's contest against Yough at Viking Stadium in Mt. Pleasant on Friday September 28, 2012.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Mt. Pleasant's Ryan Ballew (left) battles with Yough's Ben D'Amico for possession of the loose football which was picked up by Mt. Pleasant's Joey Paul (not pictured) and taken to the end zone early in the first half during Mt. Pleasant's contest against Yough at Viking Stadium in Mt. Pleasant on Friday September 28, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders  |  Daily Courier</em></div>Mt. Pleasant's Ryan Ballew (left) battles with Yough's Ben D'Amico for possession of the loose football which was picked up by Mt. Pleasant's Joey Paul (not pictured) and taken to the end zone early in the first half during Mt. Pleasant's contest against Yough at Viking Stadium in Mt. Pleasant on Friday September 28, 2012.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier - Mt. Pleasant's Taylor Allison (33) is stopped in the first half of Mt. Pleasant's contest against Yough at Viking Stadium in Mt. Pleasant on Friday September 28, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Evan R. Sanders  |  Daily Courier</em></div>Mt. Pleasant's Taylor Allison (33) is stopped in the first half of Mt. Pleasant's contest against Yough at Viking Stadium in Mt. Pleasant on Friday September 28, 2012.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review - Washington running back Shai McKenzie runs the ball during a game at GCC on Friday, August 31, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review</em></div>Washington running back Shai McKenzie runs the ball during a game at GCC on Friday, August 31, 2012.
- Mt. Pleasant Area High School’s Tyler Mellors dives into the end zone for the first touchdown around Greensburg Central Catholic High School Corey Marshall at GCC September 7, 2012. gtr-MtPGCC-01-090812
Mt. Pleasant Area High School’s Tyler Mellors dives into the end zone for the first touchdown around Greensburg Central Catholic High School Corey Marshall at GCC September 7, 2012.  gtr-MtPGCC-01-090812

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Interstate rivals

There is a logjam at the top of the Interstate Conference. Washington leads the way. A look at the top four teams:

Conf. Overall PF-PA

Washington 6-0 6-0247-55

Jeannette 5-1 5-1 246-71

Mt. Pleasant 5-1 5-1238-96

G.C.C. 3-2 3-2172-89

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 11:24 p.m.
 

Washington, not so fast!

It is coach Mike Bosnic's stern message this week in advance of the Little Prexies' Class AA Interstate Conference game Friday at Mt. Pleasant.

“Their style is hard to defend,” Bosnic said. “You have to be very disciplined when you play them. You can't be overly aggressive. They have a lot of misdirection. You have to stress over and over not to be so aggressive in terms of what you usually do. It's a contradiction.”

No. 3 Washington (6-0, 6-0) risks its unbeaten record at Mt. Pleasant (5-1, 5-1), which lost for the first time last Friday to No. 4 Jeannette (5-1, 5-1) in double overtime, 28-27.

Friday's game will feature a pair of exciting rushing attacks.

Washington is led by junior Shai McKenzie, who rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries in a 53-0 rout of winless Brownsville (0-6, 0-5). Mt. Pleasant will counter with senior Tyler Mellors, who gained 154 yards on 29 carries but was stopped short of the end zone on a two-point conversion try in double overtime of the loss to Jeannette.

Both players are among the leading rushers in the WPIAL — McKenzie has 1,026 yards and 17 touchdowns, while Mellors has gained 966 yards and scored 16 times.

The game also is a rematch of the WPIAL playoff contest between the teams in 2011. Washington beat Mt. Pleasant, 30-14, at home in a first-round game.

“Our kids saw them last year, and they had a chance to see us,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “We know how talented they are.”

Washington's return to the Interstate Conference has built the rivalry base. Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette and Mt. Pleasant generally have been the main players.

Washington leads the conference this year, though.

“At this point of the year, everybody has established their identity,” Ruffner said. “Our kids deserve to be mentioned in this. But we've got to go out and perform on the field. I think we should be fine because we're still playing for a conference championship.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dmackall@tribweb.com or 412-380-5617.

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