Washington enters final campaign
When the announcement came in March that Appalachian State officials had decided to move the school’s football team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision to what is now the Football Bowl Subdivision, Mountaineer senior and former T.W. Andrews standout Tony Washington held two opinions.
“I was happy for the athletic department and the school because this is something that they been trying to achieve for a long time,” Washington recently said in a telephone interview with The High Point Enterprise. “It will be something that should be really good in the long run.”
The negative: Appalachian won’t be eligible to win another Southern Conference championship or have the opportunity to add another FCS national championship to the three that it won from 2005-07.
“It was kind of disheartening when I heard the news, especially because last year we didn’t do what we should have done and lost in the first round (to Illinois State, 38-37).” Washington said. “We thought we would have another chance to win a championship and it was taken away.
“It makes me sad that we aren’t playing for a national championship.”
With the possibility of winning any championship off the table, the goal, understandably, is to win all 12 games on a schedule that starts with a trip to FCS power Montana on Saturday.
“It gives you a goal to shoot for,” Washington said. “You know when your last game is going to be. So, you know you have to go out and play as hard as you can and as well as you can for those 12 games.”
Washington, who turns 23 on Oct. 19, will be trying his best to help the Mountaineers win those games as a big-play threat in two areas.
He was the team’s No. 3 receiver statistically last season with 39 catches for 472 yards and three touchdowns. But, he is a bigger threat as a kick returner. He ranked 11th at the FCS level with a 27.3 kickoff return average, took one kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown against Wofford, goes into this season on pace to set an ASU record with a 26.5 kickoff return average for his career and averaged 109.7 all purpose yards last season.
“My mindset this season is just to go out and do what I can to give us the past chance to win,” Washington said. “It’s my last year so it’s time for me to set an example and show the young guys how it is done.”
He will get to set an example under new coach Scott Satterfield, who replaced longtime coach Jerry Moore, who won three national championships.
“Coach Satterfield loves a more uptempo game,” Washington said. “He wants to run more plays in a shorter period of time. Coach Moore did things more the old-fashioned way.
“But, the new offense gives us a chance to spread the ball out and catch defenses. I think I’m going to like that. I enjoy the faster tempo. It gives us a chance to run more plays and gives me a chance to use my speed.
“But, we have a talented group of receivers. I want to do what is best for the team. I just hope I’ll have some balls thrown my way and I will be able to show what I can do.”