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Washington School Board overturns Blystone decision

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 3:00 p.m.

Mike Bosnic understood why the Washington School Board voted Friday to prohibit Zach Blystone from playing in its game against Mt. Pleasant, but that didn't make the news any easier to swallow.

“I respect the school's decision, and I respect so many of the people who had to make the tough decision,” Washington's football coach said. “But it's frustrating.

“What hurts me the most is this is hurting a kid.”

After the WPIAL and PIAA denied Blystone eligibility, the family obtained a temporary injunction, and Blystone, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound lineman, played in last week's 50-14 win at Brownsville.

With Thursday's hearing in front of Common Pleas Judge John F. DiSalle postponed until Tuesday, the plan was to play Blystone again, which the board voted in favor of doing during Monday's meeting.

But after consulting with solicitor Ken Baker and attorney T.J. Relich, both of Washington law firm Peacock Keller, the board voted 5-0 in favor of keeping Blystone from playing, fearful of possible PIAA penalties, including potential forfeiture of games in which Blystone played or Blystone losing eligibility for next year.

“For each and every one of those students on the team who have made incredible efforts this season, the risk of having all of that stripped away from them is too great,” said superintendent Dr. Roberta P. DiLorenzo, who admitted winning a case against the PIAA was not something the board felt confident it could do.

Blystone is accused of transferring from Charleroi to Washington with “athletic intent.” The family contends that's not true, that it was for the betterment of Zach's education and to be closer to his dad's job in a Claysville coal mine.

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