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Washington lineman Blystone returns to field thanks to court injunction

| Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
Charleroi Zach Blystone photographed during practice on August 15, 2012 in Charleroi. Blystone has since transferred to Washington.

Ruled ineligible by the WPIAL and PIAA and denied multiple appeals, the parents and attorney for Zach Blystone obtained a court injunction last Friday, allowing the Washington junior lineman to play football while his transfer from Charleroi moves through the Washington County court system.

The injunction was received around 4 p.m. Friday, Washington coach Mike Bosnic said, and Blystone played guard, tackle and defensive line later that night during a 50-14 win at Brownsville.

Now, Blystone and those fighting the legal battle that has dragged on since August will have a hearing before Common Pleas Judge John F. DiSalle Thursday afternoon, Blystone family attorney Joe Francis confirmed Monday night.

That hearing will determine if, and for how long, the injunction will continue. Francis said Washington is risking potential forfeits and/or Blystone's future eligibility by playing, should he remain ineligible.

Earlier Monday, the Washington School Board voted to support Blystone and his family's efforts to gain eligibility after Charleroi contested the transfer, saying it was motivated by athletic intent.

Nearly every Washington High School football player showed up to support Blystone, with several of them tweeting #FreeBlystone.

Bosnic also said several members of the community spoke in favor of Blystone.

“They really feel that this is a great injustice and are appalled by what has happened here,” Bosnic said.

Francis, who started representing Blystone and his family about a month ago, contended that Blystone has been thinking about transferring since eighth grade. Eminent domain and PennDOT's desire to purchase the bulk of the family's land accelerated that process, Francis said.

Charleroi contends that prior contact with members of the Washington coaching staff occurred and that the transfer was based on athletics.

Francis said Monday that Blystone's father suffers from “health issues” and works in a coal mine in Claysville, outside of Washington. That, coupled with the Blystone family's desire to change the way Zach was educated, forced the decision.

— Jason Mackey

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