CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Washington head coach Mark Hash has seen his program grow considerably since its first season back in 2008. The No. 11 Patriots (6-3) head into Friday’s regular season finale against Jefferson battling for position in their first ever playoff appearance.
“We feel we’re already in and have solidified our spot in the playoffs,” Hash said. “If we lose, which we aren’t anticipating, we’ll be at No. 14 or No. 15. Jefferson is playing to get in, which would be big for them because they have struggled for the four or five years.”
Washington, meanwhile, has solidified its playoff positioning by winning four straight games after a 2-3 start that included losses to Sherando, Va., Handley, Va., and three-time defending state champion Martinsburg.
“We played three really, really good teams over that three-week stretch,” Hash said. “We’ve only played two teams on our schedule with losing records, although Hedgesville has a losing record now.”
Washington had two wins back in 2008, one win in 2009, four wins in 2010, five wins in 2011 and just three wins a year ago. This year, though, the Patriots have finally gotten over the hump. Hash credits a lot of the turnaround to veteran depth overall.
“We finally have some seniors – we have 19 seniors this year and we’ve never had any more than eight,” Hash said. “We’ve had great leadership, and we’ve also had great practices. We’ve been trying to teach our kids how to practice for years. This year we’ve been real consistent in our practices. We’re excited about what we’re doing and we feel our team is battle tested with the schedule we’ve played.”
The Patriots this season are led by several playmakers, including senior Kendell Smith who has 49 catches for 782 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Last week in a win over Hampshire, Smith finished with nine catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a defensive score as well.
“In my opinion, he’s the best athlete in the state of West Virginia,” Hash said. “He’s 6-foot-5, 210 pounds with a 4.5 40. He’s been really unbelievable. Our other players in the program have really come a long ways as far as strength and size. We’re really excited about things and where our program is at right now.”
Jefferson, on the other side of Friday’s matchup, has also taken significant strides under head coach Craig Hunter.