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Wash High’s McKenzie left a mark, and with one

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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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Author: Kevin Gorman

Kevin Gorman is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media who covers the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, college and prep sports in an interactive, multimedia platform. His family roots to Pittsburgh run four generations deep, a story steeped in the city’s history. His ancestors worked in the steel mill and on the railroad, invented Austin’s household products and walked the beat as a city cop. A street in Oakland is named for his great-grandfather, who was a Pittsburgh Police captain. That street, as pictured, was the inspiration for the name of this blog. Gorman joined the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in August 1999, became a sports columnist in September 2009 and has won multiple Pennsylvania Newspaper Association awards for his sports columns. He has covered the Steelers in the Super Bowl and Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final, the Pirates in the Major League Baseball playoffs, as well as the MLB All-Star Game, the U.S. Open at Oakmont, the Rose, Capital One, Citrus and Sun bowls, the ACC, Big East and NCAA basketball tournaments and WPIAL and PIAA championship events. Gorman has been the beat writer for Pitt football and men’s and women’s basketball, and has covered high school sports and recruiting. He served as color analyst for FSN Pittsburgh/Root Sports for the WPIAL football and basketball championships and as guest analyst for the Trib Total Media High School Edition. A graduate of Baldwin High School and Penn State University, Gorman has worked at newspapers in Memphis, Phoenix, Dallas and Kansas City. He has a son, Kieran, and comes from a large Irish-Catholic family whose roots are in Oakland, Greenfield and Mt. Washington. Don’t be surprised if you run into one of his cousins; considering there are more than 100, be surprised if you don’t. Email kgorman@tribweb.com or follow on Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

 
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