It has been almost 20 years since the last of Perry’s “Blue Steel” defenses folded in a 20-3 PIAA semifinal loss vs. future NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Paul Posluszny and Hopewell.
At the time, few could have guessed two decades would pass without another City League team winning a PIAA playoff game. The streak is still alive, but it might not be for much longer — at least not if “The House” has anything to say about it.
At 10-0 this season, Westinghouse is once again the City League champion for the third time in four years, and the Bulldogs now find themselves in the PIAA Class 2A District 5-8 subregional championship for the second year in a row. Westinghouse is the defending subregional champion and the No. 1 seed in this year’s bracket, and one more win Friday will place the Bulldogs into the first round of the PIAA tournament.
Last year, Westinghouse faced off with perennial District 10 power Farrell in a PIAA first-round matchup and lost, 24-7, after hanging close for most of the game. It was the closest any City League team had come to winning a PIAA playoff game since that 2002 Perry team.
This time, though, there’s an overwhelming sense of confidence permeating through the walls at Westinghouse, an undeniable feeling that this year is going to be different — and it’s now spreading throughout the streets of Homewood and all across the city.
Why so much optimism? Well, it all starts with one key player — a major key, if you will — senior quarterback Keyshawn Morsillo.
Morsillo is in his third year as the Bulldogs’ starting signal-caller, and you’d be hard pressed to find another QB in the WPIAL or City League with a track record to match his. All he has done since taking over under center is engineer three consecutive unbeaten regular seasons, winning a pair of City League titles along the way while posting a career record of 27-2.
Not bad for a city kid, huh?
“I feel like we deserve to be one of the favorites to win it all this year,” Morsillo said. “And I think we’ve shown it.”
A 6-foot-3, 190-pound gunslinger with a laser arm and elite scrambling ability, there haven’t been many playmakers quite like Morsillo to come out of the city in recent years. Sure, there have been a few big-time recruits like Brashear’s Ta’Mere Robinson and Perry’s Tyreese Fearbry, but neither of them had anything close to the high school success Morsillo has enjoyed, both individually and team-wise.
As a junior, Morsillo passed for 1,411 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 733 yards and 15 more scores. This year, he has already blown past his 2021 passing totals, with 1,749 yards and 28 touchdowns through the air to go with 516 yards rushing on 47 carries. He also has nine rushing TDs, giving him 37 total touchdowns through 10 games — and he’s not done yet.
Of course the numbers are impressive. Back-to-back seasons with 2,000-plus total yards and more than 30 total TDs is an extremely rare feat for a WPIAL quarterback, let alone a City Leaguer. And Morsillo’s 28 TD passes rank third in the area among all quarterbacks, behind only Armstrong’s Cadin Olsen and Shaler’s Keegan Smetanka. But when it comes to evaluating Morsillo’s game, the most important stat of all to consider is the W-L record.
In his sophomore season, Morsillo and Westinghouse finished 7-0 and won the 2020 City League title, but the district chose not to participate in the state playoffs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He would go on to win his first 15 games as a starter until the Bulldogs suffered a shocking 14-0 defeat against Allderdice in last year’s City League championship game.
Based on the results of the rematches this year — a 38-7 regular-season win on Sept. 22 and a 40-8 win in the City League title game on Oct. 29 — it seems like Morsillo and the Bulldogs had revenge on their mind all year.
“It’s easy getting back to the top, but it’s hard staying at the top,” Morsillo said. “We know we’ve got the talent. We know we’ve got everything in line. We feel like nobody can beat us. Nobody can beat Westinghouse but Westinghouse.”
After starting off the season with a 40-8 blowout win vs. Clairton, Westinghouse then went on the road and knocked off Steelton-Highspire, the top-ranked Class 1A team in the state, 39-18. Morsillo went into that game with the goal of outshining Steel-High quarterback Alex Erby, a Penn State recruit — and he did just that in a dazzling performance with 346 total yards (266 passing, 80 rushing) and four TDs.
Morsillo is coming off another huge game after passing for 325 yards and five TDs in a 48-15 win vs. Chestnut Ridge last Friday. Now, the only team standing in the Bulldogs’ path to the PIAA tournament is undefeated Berlin Brothersvalley, the District 5 champion. Berlin has allowed only 39 points all season in 11 contests. Westinghouse, on the other hand, has scored at least 38 points in all 10 games and averages 45.5 ppg.
Something has to give — and Morsillo all but guaranteed that “The House” will not be the one to budge Friday night at Somerset.
“I don’t want to try to downplay them, because they’re 11-0 for a reason,” Morsillo said. “They’re a good team. But they’ve never seen a team with so much speed and so much power. They’ve never played a team like [us].”
Although he finally received his first scholarship offer from Lock Haven in September, Morsillo remains one of the most under-recruited star players in the area. He said he plans on waiting until after the season to take any official visits before making a college decision.
For now, his sole focus lies on finishing off a perfect season and leading the Bulldogs to an improbable state title — one that would surely rival Perry’s legendary upset win against national powerhouse Berwick in the 1989 PIAA Class 3A title game. That Perry team remains the only City League team to win a state championship.
“That would go down in history,” Morsillo said. “This team will forever be remembered. Every player on this team. It would just make me so happy that I went out with a bang.”