Washington’s record-setting running back, Shai McKenzie, learned Monday that his senior season is over after tests revealed that he has a torn ACL in his right knee.
The injury ends the high school football career of one of the most productive backs in WPIAL history.
Like every running back who has played at Wash High since the mid-1980s, McKenzie couldn’t avoid comparisons to Little Prexies legend Brian Davis. Difference was, McKenzie thrived on it. He wasn’t shy about wanting to break Davis’ school records.
First, McKenzie broke Davis’ single-season mark. McKenzie led the Little Prexies to the WPIAL Class AA final, finishing with 2,689 yards — only 52 shy of Rushel Shell’s single-season WPIAL rushing record.
Soon, McKenzie was one of the most coveted recruits in Western Pennsylvania. He drew an invitation to The Opening, the Nike-sponsored camp in Oregon for elite prospects.
So, it’s no wonder McKenzie set lofty goals for his senior season. He wanted to become the first player in Western Pennsylvania history to rush for 3,000 yards in a season. And, through the first two games, he was on pace to do just that. Then he planted and heard a pop and crumbled to the turf at Charleroi, his senior season and his high school career were suddenly over. He finished with 4,509 rushing yards and 69 touchdowns, surpassing a standard for greatness despite playing less than 10 quarters this season.
Now, surgery awaits.
McKenzie should take some solace, knowing that he left an indelible mark on WPIAL football.
Unfortunately, WPIAL football will leave an indelible mark on him, as well.
— By Kevin Gorman
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