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Traditional powers Aliquippa, Washington in marquee matchup

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Playoff history The Quips have 14 WPIAL titles and are 17-2 in playoff games since ‘08. They are making a fifth consecutive title game appearance.

Coach Mike Zmijanac has won four WPIAL titles in 16 seasons and is 171-28.

Leaders Passing: Malik Shegog, 28-53-526-7 TDs; Rushing: Dravon Henry, 116-1,316, 21 TDs; Receiving: Hassahn Thompson, 8-233, 2 TDs.

Starting offense

QB 10 Malik Shegog 5-9 160 sr.

RB 6 Dravon Henry 5-11 185 jr.

RB 12 Terry Swanson 5-9 182 jr.

WR 9 Hassahn Thompson 5-9 155 sr.

WR 21 Shaquere McBride 5-7 150 sr.

TE 85 Dajon Perry 5-9 230 jr.

LT 74 Malcolm Fraser 5-10 220 sr.

LG 60 Malik Akins 6-1 255 sr.

C 64 Nayo Seaburn 5-7 240 jr.

RG 65 Damon Sims 5-9 287 sr.

RT 70 Jaleel Fields 6-2 260 so.

K 4 Robert Kish 5-11 175 sr.

Starting defense

DE 40 Devon Walker 5-9 175 sr.

DL 65 Damon Sims 5-9 287 sr.

DL 70 Jaleel Fields 6-2 260 so.

DL 60 Malik Akins 6-1 255 sr.

DE 22 Chris Ingram 5-11 185 sr.

LB 52 Celo Chavis 5-8 200 sr.

LB 85 Dajon Perry 5-9 230 jr.

DB 8 Jyier Turner 5-7 160 jr.

DB 33 Malik Stewart 5-8 150 sr.

S 6 Dravon Henry 5-11 185 jr.

S 12 Terry Swanson 5-9 182 jr.

P 4 Robert Kish 5-11 175 sr.


Playoff history The Prexies have won six WPIAL titles (two shared).

Coach Mike Bosnic, a former OT at Pitt, is coaching in a title game for the first time.

Leaders Passing: Josh Wise, 36-63-575-5 TDs; Rushing: Shai McKenzie, 214-2,656-41 TDs; Receiving: Darius Spinks, 10-281-4 TDs.

Starting offense

QB 11 Josh Wise 6-1 190 sr.

FB 40 Jaylin Kelly 6-2 235 sr.

RB 28 Shai McKenzie 6-0 215 jr.

WR 23 Darius Spinks 5-9 155 sr.

WR 7 Mijerean Witcher 5-9 160 sr.

TE 10 Chase Caldwell 6-1 185 jr.

LT 77 Brenton Jones 6-6 286 sr.

LG 50 Elijah Jones 6-0 220 sr.

C 69 Xavier Darden 5-10 192 jr.

RG 75 Anthony Byrd 6-0 235 so.

RT 73 Rikwon Moore 6-2 280 sr.

K 12 Jonathan Spina 5-7 130 so.

Starting defense

DE 74 Thomas Cherry 6-0 245 fr.

DT 75 Anthony Byrd 6-0 235 so.

DT 73 Rikwon Moore 6-2 280 sr.

DE 42 Daron Whitaker 5-7 168 sr.

LB 24 Malik Wells 5-7 165 so.

LB 40 Jaylin Kelly 6-2 235 sr.

LB 32 Rhamir Thomas 6-1 195 sr.

LB 10 Chase Caldwell 6-1 185 jr.

DB 7 Mijerean Witcher 5-9 160 sr.

DB 23 Darius Spinks 5-9 155 sr.

S 11 Josh Wise 6-1 190 sr.

P 10 Chase Caldwell 6-1 185 jr.

Top high school sports
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, 10:24 p.m.

Similar to what some would say about the Yankees in baseball or Notre Dame in college football, Mike Zmijanac believes WPIAL football is better when a marquee “name” program such as Washington is playing like a championship contender.

“It's good for high school football when the traditional teams are good,” Zmijanac said.

They don't get much bigger in Western Pennsylvania than Aliquippa — past or present. If it's the weekend after Thanksgiving, you can count on the Quips playing for a WPIAL championship at Heinz Field.

It's been five years since that hasn't been the case.

No. 1 seed Aliquippa will play No. 3 Washington for the WPIAL Class AA title in a matchup of 12-0 teams at 5 p.m. Friday.

While the Prexies are playing on Championship Friday for the first time since 2001, the Quips are making their seventh appearance in 10 years.

“Nobody understands how hard it is just to get here — let alone win,” Zmijanac said. “We're not complacent enough to not want to win, but to get here is a great accomplishment for any team in the WPIAL.”

It's an accomplishment Wash High used to make routinely. The Prexies won their first WPIAL title 95 years ago, and they played in six of the 12 Class AA championship games between 1990-2001.

Zmijanac boasts that he's been to every Aliquippa championship game appearance since 1952. He will be one of the few in the stadium on Friday who can say he was at Pitt Stadium the most recent time the Quips and Washington met in a WPIAL championship game (a 13-12 Aliquippa victory).

Twenty-two times since 1980, either Washington or Aliquippa has been to the WPIAL championship games. But this is the first time they will play each other with a championship on the line in 60 years.

To Zmijanac, it doesn't get much better.

“Those are the fanbases that make high school football,” Zmijanac said. “Let me tell you something — I'm not putting people down when I say this — but ... all these new places that these recent residents come to, they only care about their kids playing, and once their kids are done playing, they quit following the team.

“Wash High, Beaver Falls, Jeannette, Aliquippa, McKeesport ... people put their blood and soul into those teams in those towns. It's good to have a traditional, longstanding school like that back.”

Mike Bosnic is the man who led the Prexies back. When he took over as coach in 2009, Washington was coming off one of the worst seasons in its roughly century-long history at 1-8.

Four years later, Wash High is undefeated and in the WPIAL championship game again.

“We've come a long way,” Bosnic said. “It's really neat to see the community excited about the football team again. It's a neat little town where football is still really important, and to be able to bring that pride and joy back to a lot of people in this community with how much it means to them is definitely very gratifying.”

It won't be easy to reward those fans with a victory Friday. Aliquippa has been one of the more dominant WPIAL teams — this side of Class A Clairton — in recent memory. The Quips lead the WPIAL in scoring offense (52 points per game), scoring defense (3.5 ppg) and total defense (76.58 yards per game).

Washington counters with the WPIAL's leading rusher in Shai McKenzie. The junior has 2,656 rushing yards and can break the WPIAL single-season record with 85 yards Friday.

“I think he's one of the elite running backs in the country,” Bosnic said.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.




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