The Washington football team delivered an exhilarating season in 2009.



Not only did the Panthers become the third team in school history to win at least 11 games, they also appeared in the state quarterfinals in consecutive seasons for the first time ever.



“I thought the kids did a great job accomplishing all but one of our goals,” WCHS head coach Darrell Crouch said.



One of the major victories in an 11-1 season on the gridiron came in week two.


The Washington football team delivered an exhilarating season in 2009.

Not only did the Panthers become the third team in school history to win at least 11 games, they also appeared in the state quarterfinals in consecutive seasons for the first time ever.

“I thought the kids did a great job accomplishing all but one of our goals,” WCHS head coach Darrell Crouch said.

One of the major victories in an 11-1 season on the gridiron came in week two.

Washington smacked Metamora, 28-7, Sept. 4 at Babcook Field for its first victory over the Redbirds since 1994.

That victory helped the Panthers finish 7-0 in the Mid-Illini Conference and earn their first league title in 15 years.

Metamora’s 35-game conference winning streak and five-year run of M-I crowns ended.

The Redbirds play Geneseo Friday night for the state championship in Class 4A. They still have just one loss.

Washington finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press 5A state poll at the conclusion of the regular season.

Another big triumph came Nov. 7 vs. Sterling. The Panthers rallied from 14 points down to top the Golden Warriors, 28-21, in the second round in the 5A bracket.

“That was a really good win for us,” said Crouch of defeating the eighth-rated team in the state.

Washington’s season, which included an 11-game victory string for the first time in the program’s history, ended with a quarterfinal setback to Joliet Catholic.

Crouch said it meant a lot that the large group of Panther fans stayed for the entire game in Joliet against the Hilltoppers even though the outcome was decided.

There was a consistent throng of Washington backers as the team made an historic march this fall.

“The fan support was the best since I’ve been there,” Crouch said.

The 19 seniors who concluded their careers left some considerable benchmarks for future classes to try to equal or exceed.

“There’s only really one way to surpass it and that’s to get to the (state) semis,” Crouch said.

The mentor praised the seniors for losing only three varsity games over the last two seasons after losing nine as freshmen and sophomores.

“That’s a pretty good accomplishment,” Crouch said. “It says a lot about them.”

Three players received statewide honors recently.

Senior Colton Underwood, an Illinois State University recruit, was named an all-state selection in 5A by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association.

Seniors Mitchell Brown and Grant Dingledine were selected as academic all-state recipients.

Twelve athletes were first- or second-team all-conference, including some repeat picks.

“It was one of the most rewarding years I’ve had, coaching-wise,” Crouch said.

The offense will be hit hard by graduation with only one starter — sophomore quarterback Isaac Fisher — remaining on the roster.

That is a position with tremendous depth as sophomore Zach Little and freshman Alec  Peterson both are capable QBs.

Tailback Justin Riley and fullback Underwood leave the backfield.

Riley finished as the career leader in total points, while Underwood departs as the No. 3 career rusher.

Dylan Reel, a sophomore, is one of the candidates to replace Riley, while juniors Eric Jaszarowski and Connor Underwood are options at fullback.

Junior Ryan Grebner is a player Crouch thinks can break out at receiver like Robert Izaguirre.

The offensive line will be young. The current sophomores and juniors will have to work hard to land and maintain starting positions.

A defense that allowed only 10.4 points per game will not take as many hits.

Juniors Dylan Koonce and Dan Massengill are solid d-linemen. Reel and Connor Underwood are formidable linebackers.

Special teams will be hurt considerably when the powerful kicking foot of Toni Ramadani departs.

Crouch would prefer working the current freshmen into spot roles on next year’s varsity, but is not hesitant to increase their workload if the two older classes do not seize their opportunities.

Richwoods returns to the schedule in ’10, following week-one foe Central on the non-conference slate.

The matchup with the Knights, a 5A semifinalist, will be a highly-anticipated showdown.

The Panthers won three of four games in a recent series that ended in ’07.

Although there will be a lot of turnover next year, there is ample ability to keep Washington in elite territory.