When Frazier began the 2019 football season with six straight losses it was hard to envision that a year later the Commodores would be making a push for the WPIAL playoffs.
Yet here they are.
Frazier will walk into Washington High School Stadium tonight with a spot in the postseason on the line when it goes up against the Prexies in a Century Conference showdown for second place.
Well, at least the Commodores hope that a win will mean a playoff spot.
The WPIAL altered its playoff format for Class 2A to where only conference champions are guaranteed a berth in the postseason. Instead of second-place teams automatically earning a bid, there will now be four wild-card teams chosen, meaning even a win by either Washington or Frazier won’t assure them a trip to the postseason.
“If we win this game and the WPIAL doesn’t take us that would be an honest shame,” Frazier coach Greg Boggs said. “I just don’t see how that would be fair to our kids. But I don’t think that will happen. They have Washington ranked in the top five, so if we beat them on their own field, how can we not be considered one of the top eight?
“But this is the playoffs already for us really. We have to get through Washington and that’s a big obstacle.”
Both teams are 4-1 in the conference with losses to first-place McGuffey and 4-2 overall. The Prexies, coached by Albert Gallatin graduate Mike Bosnic, have a strong tradition and reached the WPIAL championship game a year ago.
Still, Boggs is confident his team can compete and win against Wash High.
“I think we match up well with them,” he said. “But obviously it won’t be easy. They had an incredible run last year. They lost a lot from that team but when you look at them, they’re still big, they’re physical, they have speed. They’re still one of the top teams in Double-A right now.
“We’ve been saying all week we have to play good, smart football. We can’t hurt ourselves. We can’t put the ball on the ground, we can’t have interceptions and penalties at the wrong times. We can’t give this team extra opportunities. We have to show up like we did against Beth-Center (a 39-0 win last week), with sustained drives, smash-mouth football up front and aggressive defense.”
Boggs is in his second year at Frazier and he’s seen a gradual change after last year’s poor start, some of which he attributes to adjusting to a new coach and system.
“A big part of it is confidence, which is something I see in them now,” said Boggs, whose team is 7-3 in its last 10 games. “It’s also the kids coming together and buying more into the program and what we’re asking them to do.
“When you change the style there’s always going to be a transition period. They were playing more of a sit-and-read defense and we wanted more of an attack-and-react. So you’re asking kids to do some things a little bit different and that takes time.”
The Commodores’ most lethal weapon is senior running back and defensive back Kenny Fine, but his surrounding cast has flourished also, despite facing some early-season adversity.
“Two games in we lose our starting quarterback (Brayden Boggs) who was off to a great start,” Boggs said. “A lot of the offense was based on his passing. We had to change and other players all stepped in and were willing to do what they needed to do to help the team succeed. Dom Dorcon has gone in at quarterback and done well.
“We lost Kenny one week, at McGuffey (a 42-0 loss), and one of our starting linemen, Jacob Celaschi. We went into the McGuffey game pretty banged up. We’ll be a lot healthier for this game.”
Boggs’ only regret this season is the lack of fans at games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The kids are playing great and a lot of our fans haven’t been able to see it,” Boggs said. “It was nice last week to have some parents there but our fans won’t be able to go to Washington so that takes away from it.
“These kids have worked really hard all through the season and in the off-season. I wish everyone was able to see what they’re doing.”
In other Century Conference games tonight, McGuffey (5-0, 5-1) is at Beth-Center (1-4, 1-5) and Waynesburg Central (0-5, 0-6) travels to Chartiers-Houston (2-3, 2-4).
There are two other games with playoff implications involving area teams.
In the Tri-County South Conference, Carmichaels (5-1, 5-1) travels to Avella (4-2, 4-2). The winner finishes second and earns an automatic playoff bid. The loser would still have a chance at earning one of two wild-card spots.
In the Interstate Conference, Mount Pleasant (4-1, 4-2) faces a similar situation. The Vikings travel to South Park (3-2, 3-2) with the winner clinching second place behind Elizabeth Forward and an automatic playoff berth, while the loser would still be alive for a wild-card spot.
In other Tri-County South action, Mapletown (1-5, 1-5) hosts Bentworth (3-3, 3-3) and West Greene (2-3, 3-3) plays Jefferson-Morgan (3-3, 3-3) at Waynesburg University’s John F. Wiley Stadium. Conference champion and unbeaten California (6-0) closes its regular season with a forfeit win over Monessen.
In other Interstate action, Southmoreland (2-2, 3-2) is on the road against the Warriors (4-0, 5-0) and Bowling Green recruit Chase Whatton, and Yough (0-4, 1-6) travels to Brownsville (0-4, 0-6).
In the Big East Conference, Connellsville (0-4, 0-6) hosts Gateway (2-0, 3-0).
In the Big Eight Conference, Laurel Highlands (1-4, 1-5) hosts Trinity (2-3, 3-3) and Ringgold (0-5, 1-5) hosts West Mifflin (1-4, 1-4).
In a non-conference match-up of local teams, Charleroi (2-4) travels to Albert Gallatin (4-1).
Uniontown’s game at Belle Vernon was cancelled but the Red Raiders will get to play a home game next Friday when they host Latrobe at Bill Power Stadium.