PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At 6 foot 3 inches and 270 pounds, No. 55 Zach Blystone is the star right guard for the Washington High School football team.
But he’s spent most of this season on the sidelines — not because of injury, but because the WPIAL board has declared him ineligible, ruling in August that the Blystone’s family moved from here from Charleroi so Zach could play football for the prixies.
“The board came to the conclusion that, if not for football, would this have occurred? And they were of the opinion that it wouldn’t have,” Tim O’Malley with WPIAL said.
“It’s not true,” said Zach’s mother Corinna Blystone. “We moved to Washington for a lot of reason and football wasn’t one of them.”
Zach parent’s Kent and Corinna Blystone say that Zach had fallen in with a bad crowd and needed academic opportunities Charleroi could not provide.
“We needed a fresh start,” she said.
Frustrated they appealed the WPIAL decision twice to the State Athletic Board and lost, but now a Washington County judge has has issued an injunction allowing to Zach to play for the team until he rules in the case — but playing Zach comes at a risk.
“One of the penalties incurred if you use an ineligible player is to forfeit contests,” O’Malley said.
If the judge upholds the ruling that Zach is ineligible, the WPIAL says the high school must forfeit the games in which Zach has played — gone would be the undefeated season and a conference championship will be in jeopardy.
“It’s a tough decision,” Coach Mike Bosnic said. “I’ve always felt that as a high school football coach, I try to make this about the kids.”
Bosnic played Zach last week and Zach was slated to play Friday night against Mt. Pleasant — but Friday afternoon the school board voted to bench Zach and await the judge’s decisions next week.
Still that’s not likely to be the end of it.
Emotions run high in the case with both side vowing to take it to the state’s highest courts.
Caught in the middle is this football team and the future of one young man who wants to badly to play.