Blue Jays Compete at Jamboree

Washington quarterback Isaac Lippert pitches the ball while hit by Borgia's Hunter Warmack during a jamboree at Borgia.

Bill Battle

Washington tuned up for the start of the high school football season with a jamboree last Friday at Borgia. Joining the Blue Jays and Knights were University City and Cardinal Ritter.

“We did some good things. There are a lot of things for us to improve and work on this week,” said Washington Head Coach Zach Schneider. “We’re where I thought we’d be. I’m content with where we are. We know what we need to work on.”

Washington returns three starters on offense and seven on defense from last season’s team that went 6-5, losing to Camdenton in the Class 5 District 4 semifinals.

The top returner is senior running back/linebacker Kyle Summers. Schneider said Summers had touchdown runs of 10 yards against University City and 35 yards against Borgia.

According to Schneider, the Blue Jays scored two touchdowns against University City and one against both Cardinal Ritter and Borgia.

“Offensively, we didn’t do too bad. We turned the ball over a couple of times near the goal line on an interception and a fumble. We also missed some open receivers on pass plays,” Schneider said. “Our line did a good job with run blocking. There’s some work to do with our pass protection. University City threw a lot of speed at us.”

The big question is who will replace three-year starter Luke Hasenjaeger at quarterback?

Schneider said there are as many as four options. The leading candidates are senior Christian Hardesty and junior Isaac Lippert. Junior Austin Finder also is in the mix, as is Summers.

Defensively, the Blue Jays saw both positives and negatives from the jamboree.

“We have more varsity experience on the defensive side of the ball compared to the offensive side. We did some good things at the jamboree,” Schneider said. “I was a little disappointed with our tackling, We didn’t finish like we need to. We seem to talk about that every year to start the season. We gave up too much over the top. University City hit three deep ones on us. We were right there on two of those, but didn’t make the play. We’ll really work on that this week. We can’t give up plays over the top.”

St. Clair Preview

Washington opens the regular season at St. Clair Friday at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs return two starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s 10-2 team.

The Blue Jays lost at home to St. Clair in last season’s opener, 35-24.

Schneider and St. Clair Head Coach Cody McDowell played football together at Central Methodist University.

“Cody and I have known each other for quite a few years. We talked last Saturday night and might talk a couple of times this week leading up to the game,” Schneider said. “We probably won’t say much to each other after the game until a week or so when things die down a little. He was a defensive player and I was a quarterback, so we have different mentalities. We’re both very competitive and want to win this game.”

Schneider said Monday morning that he hasn’t decided who will start at quarterback for the Blue Jays. He said he’d rather not play a two-quarterback system, but anything is possible.

“Maybe I’ll make the decision Thursday night, but it might not be until Friday at 6:55 p.m.,” Schneider said.

The Blue Jays and Bulldogs are similar teams.

Both teams are led by a senior running back/linebacker who bring a physical style to the field.

Washington’s Summers and St. Clair’s Skyler Hutchison both wear No. 44 as well.

“Kyle might have a couple of inches height wise on Skyler, but other than that, they’re very similar,” Schneider said. “They’re both hard-nosed, tough kids who play hard. It will be a battle between them all night. Skyler probably will be in there for every play and Kyle will be close to every play.”

Both teams have many holes to fill from last year’s graduating class, including the quarterback position.

“Neither team has a lot of experience at quarterback. Both teams have questions on both sides of the ball. It boils down to which team best answers those questions,” Schneider said. “We have to take care of the ball. We held a 17-14 lead at halftime in last year’s game and couldn’t close it out. They made some plays, but we didn’t take care of the ball in the second half. Defensively, we can’t give up big plays.”

To try to beat the heat, the Blue Jays are having morning practices this week. Projection —

St. Clair 40, Washington 26.