Washington Stars Through Three Games

James Washington may be a high school football player from west Texas who plays for a Class 1A school but he's already making a name for himself. Last December, his leaping one-handed catch in the back of the end zone in Stamford High School's state championship victory was No. 2 on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays. He is still making spectacular plays as a senior.

The Stamford High School standout senior caught five touchdowns passes in the Bulldogs' first two victories of the 2013 season. Someone found a way to slow down Washington this past Friday night as two of his three touchdowns in Stamford's 34-20 victory over Merkel were called back by the officials.

A 60-yard touchdown reception was not allowed after the officials called Stamford for a block in the back on the play. Washington also had a 25-yard interception return nullified when the officials ruled the ball bounced before he caught it.

Washington's 21-yard run on a jet sweep for a touchdown was allowed.

It was still a frustrating night for Washington as Merkel's coaching staff decided that the standout receiver was not going to get his chances on offense. "They weren't going to let us throw it to him. They double teamed him and sometimes had three over there," said Wayne Hutchinson, Stamford's head coach. "He still had a great game."

Washington's numbers after three games are still outstanding with 14 receptions for 309 yards and five touchdowns.

"I feel really comfortable. I feel like I'm playing just like I left off (last season)," said Washington, who committed to Oklahoma State in July.

The future Cowboy says he read some of the Sports Illustrated five-part series on the OSU program, but he's still a solid commitment to head coach Mike Gundy. "It's kind of confusing. I really don't know if it's true or not, but the way I feel is that I couldn't see them doing that," said Washington.

"I'm still committed to Oklahoma State."

He's also committed to helping Stamford win a second consecutive Class 1A Division 1 state championship.

Hutchinson says that will only happen if Washington continues to play as well as he has through the first three games of the season.

"We got him running kickoffs back, we've got him running punts back, we've got him playing cornerback, and we've got him playing receiver. At any time he's liable to break the game open with an interception, a kickoff return, a punt return, and especially as a receiver," said his head coach.

"We like to call his number a lot. Our offense is geared toward what the defense is giving us, but if we can get the ball in his hands 10 or 15 times then we're definitely going to win the ballgame. We try to get the ball in his hands.

"We like to go over the top and beat people deep because he's got great speed and he can get behind them. But at the same time he's a good possession-type receiver where we can hit the short stops and he can turn it into five or 10 more yards, and sometimes breaks it. We love to throw the screens out there to him, where he can make one or two miss in space and go score.

"We've been using him on the jet sweep where we bring him in motion and then hand him the ball, allowing him to use his talent to get to the perimeter. We have to be creative in how we get him the ball. A lot of times we have to put him in motion so that people don't jam him at the line, and that's one way we get him away from the hard double coverage.

"He's probably the most explosive athlete I've ever been around," said Hutchinson of the four-sport athlete (football, basketball, track and tennis).

Washington showed his explosiveness in last spring's Texas State track meet, winning the 200 meters in 21.49 seconds, anchoring Stamford's first-place 4x200-meter relay team, and placing second in the triple jump.

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