Gorman: Washington makes his mark with Moon
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Mark Washington knew three years ago that Aliquippa had the makings of a multiple WPIAL champion.
But Washington couldn't pass up a chance to become a first-time head coach.
“We knew this was a great class when I was at Aliquippa,” Washington said, “but it was time for me to get my own opportunity.”
So in 2011, he took over one of the worst teams in Class AAA, despite not knowing a soul in Moon Area.
After winning the 1998 WPIAL title and going 42-21 between 2001-06, the Tigers suffered through a stretch that saw them go 8-47 over the next six seasons.
Now, Moon is back in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs for the first time since ‘06. The Tigers (6-3) play West Mifflin (8-1) on Friday.
“Our players are buying into the program,” said Washington, 45. “When you're rebuilding a program, the kids have to buy in and understand that we're all together in this thing. We make no excuses, no matter what happens: win, lose or draw. It's all about hard work. There's no other way to do it.”
An offensive lineman at Aliquippa under Don Yannessa in the mid-1980s, Washington played on two WPIAL title teams.
Now, he is trying to instill a mentality in Moon that already exists in Aliquippa, where nothing short of a championship is satisfactory.
“I believe in the core values: working hard, doing the grunt work, getting in the weight room and doing the little things, not the big things,” Washington said.
“Everybody looks on Saturday and sees who caught the touchdowns, but they don't know how they caught the touchdowns, what they did to get there.”
Washington surrounded himself with a staff that includes four Aliquippa alums, including a sideline mentor in Frank Marocco.
The Tigers overcame the loss of leading rusher Anthony Colaianni to injury by focusing on their togetherness.
Behind the blocking of the front five led by senior tackles Charlie Brenner and Josh Todd, center Niko Yaramus and fullback Ian Kelly, senior Cole Blake has rushed for 1,457 yards.
“It's a collective thing,” Washington said. “You see his name, but it's the guys up front blocking for him.
“People understand that it's a work in progress, that we're still trying to get better. A lot of our kids are saying, ‘It's not about me, it's about we.' It's about us, as a program.”
One that, together, is poised for the playoffs.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- NFL notebook: Sanchez says Eagles signed Tebow as extra arm in camp
- Serious injury reported in Penn Hills fire
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- 3 names added to Tuskegee Airmen Memorial in Sewickley
- Parkway West closure canceled
- Defense dominates West Virginia’s spring game
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Views of Heinz Field entice National Guard recruits
- Experts met in Nepal week ago to discuss earthquake they knew would rip into Kathmandu