Gorman: Wash High-Charleroi to battle over Blystone
When Washington visits Charleroi on Friday, the Interstate Conference game will be intensified because of a player who isn't playing.
There is potential for bad blood, after Charleroi contested the transfer of 6-foot-3, 265-pound junior lineman Zach Blystone this summer to Wash High.
“We wanted to send a message to the district that we're not going to let other schools come in and take our kids,” Charleroi coach Ed Jenkins said.
“With a small school like ours — we're at the low end of Class AA — every player counts. Zach would have been instrumental in what we do.”
The Blystone case is a complicated one, considering that the family actually moved into the Washington school district during a window of opportunity.
Corrina Blystone left a paper trail of emails to Charleroi administrators that were used against her son, with both the WPIAL and PIAA boards finding it proof of athletic intent, even though the family was being displaced by PennDOT construction through two-thirds of its property.
“I'm really disappointed about the way this went,” Corrina Blystone said. “I don't know why Charleroi would fight this, why they would hurt a kid. He loves football. It's his passion. He's appalled that there are adults who would go out of their way to do this to him.”
The Blystones have retained a Washington County-based attorney, Joe Francis, who plans to appeal to the PIAA for a reversal — or at least a new hearing — based on new evidence.
Wash High coach Mike Bosnic called it a shame that Blystone will be standing on the visiting sideline.
“As far as I'm concerned, we're going there to play football,” Bosnic said. “That's my focus. I'm going to do everything in my power and my team is going to do everything to avoid conflict. We're not there for anything else.”
Jenkins wants his Cougars to do the same.
“There's a lot of emotions around everything that's happened,” Jenkins said. “I try to remove that from our locker room. We're taking the attitude this week that it's not about any one individual, it's about the name on the front of our jerseys.
“Obviously, Washington is one of the premier teams in the WPIAL, and Shai McKenzie is one of the top running backs in the nation. We've got our work cut out for us. It's not about a vendetta. We've got to tackle this kid or it's going to be a long night.”