Prexies in hunt for first PIAA title
Washington football coach Guy Montecalvo announced at the team's banquet last January that the plan for this season was to win a PIAA title.
"I told them we intended to go to Hershey for the state championships and to get their reservations now."
Washington fans now can make their confirmations.
Washington didn't play well on offense and its defense gave up big plays, but the Little Prexies soundly defeated Bishop McCort, 42-21, in the PIAA Class AA semifinals Friday at William K. Power Stadium in Uniontown.
"It's awesome to think about playing in the state championship game" Washington senior wide receiver Brian Skaggs said.
Washington (14-0) will play the winner of today's St. Pius X (11-1)/Pen Argyl (13-0) game in the PIAA championship game Dec. 8 at Hersheypark Stadium. The Little Prexies will make their second appearance in the finals. They lost to Dallas in 1993.
"We can become the first Washington team to win a state title and be remembered forever," Skaggs said.
Bishop McCort (11-3) upset three teams on the way to its first District 5/6 title and state playoff victory, and it didn't fold against Washington, the No. 1 team in the state, after trailing, 35-7, at halftime.
"That's a tribute to the character of this team," said senior Bishop McCort receiver Pat Schrey, who had 161 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. "There was never any quit in this team. We accomplished so much this season."
Washington took a commanding lead late in the first half when it scored three touchdowns in just more than three minutes.
Senior lineman Ben Borkowsky blocked a Bishop McCort punt inside the 20 and Washington recovered at the 4. Senior running back Travis Thomas scored his second touchdown of the game a play later to give the Prexies a 21-7 lead.
"Our defense didn't give up big plays, but our special teams did," Bishop McCort coach Ken Salem said. "You take away those plays and it's a different ball game."
On Bishop McCort's ensuing possession, Skaggs, a defensive back, anticipated a slant route, intercepted a Joe Arcurio pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to give the Prexies a 28-7 lead.
"The wide receiver backed up and adjusted his feet before the play and I could tell what he was doing," said Skaggs, who had two interceptions in the WPIAL championships last week. "I jumped in front of him and the ball came right to me."
With 30 seconds remaining in the first half, Washington called a timeout as Bishop McCort faced a fourth-and-15 from its 22. This time, Javon Washington rushed around the right end and blocked the punt. Vontey Johnson scooped up the ball at the 13 and ran for a touchdown.
"He's been a phenomenal player for us all year," Montecalvo said. "He might be 5-foot-4, 140 pounds, but he plays like he's 6-4, 240. I guess good things come in small packages."
Washington led by four touchdowns at halftime and appeared ready to blow out another team this season, but Bishop McCort responded in the second half.
Arcurio, who 6 for 18 for 153 yards, led Bishop McCort on a 10-play drive that ended in Matt Domonkos' field goal miss from 54 yards. But the Crimson Crushers showed they could move the ball and on their next possession scored on a 1-yard run by Arcurio after recovering a fumble at the Washington 39.
Arcurio connected with Schrey on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 9:12 left in the game to make the score 35-21.
But after throwing three incompletions on its previous possession, Washington responded with its ground game that had struggled at times, as it ran the ball nine times on a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to seal the victory.
"We wanted to run the ball to win the game and we did," Montecalvo said.
Bishop McCort shocked Washington with an eight-play, 77-yard drive touchdown drive after it forced the Little Prexies to punt on the game's opening possession. The Prexies answered with an 83-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 36-yard catch by Brian Skaggs that gave Washington a first down at the 24.
On Bishop McCort's next possession Washington started to flex its muscles, as it didn't allow a first down and forced a punt. In the first half, Washington's defense allowed just allowed just 70 yards and two first downs.
Washington after Darnell Barnes intercepted quarterback Joe Arcurio on McCort's next possession at Washington's 31. The Prexies then marched 69 yards on nine plays, culminating in J.R. Ward's 1-yard run. The touchdown gave Washington the lead for good.