Pinpointing when a youthful football team begins to mature is difficult and for Washington High School, there are several options for consideration.
There was a dominating three-game stretch where the Prexies outscored East Allegheny, Brownsville and South Allegheny, 107-14.
Then there's last Friday's gutty win over Jeannette where Washington scored the final 18 points.
How about last night's thrilling 20-18 win over a good Charleroi team when Marquis Brown picked up a Quentin Briggs fumble and returned it 66 yards for the tying touchdown before adding the winning points on a two-point run?
All solid choices.
For me, the moment came during the fourth quarter of a loss to Mt. Pleasant in Week 2. The Vikings led 28-0 before Washington scored 15 points. Those points looked meaningless at the time but it showed this group of Prexies isn't about to quit.
That attitude has shown through the past two weeks against strong competition.
So did Washington's toughness and evolving maturity.
Last night, for example, several key plays came from a variety of underclassmen. Freshman Daron Whitaker, all 5-4 or 5-5 of him, rushed for a team-high 62 yards and moved the chains during the first half. In the second half, freshman Jaylin Kelly came in and picked up 16 yards. Doesn't sound like much but he converted two third downs and added a touchdown.
Runs like the ones Kelly had and just about every yard picked up by Zach Barnes were as important in beating Charleroi as Brown's fumble.
Washington needed to match Charleroi's desire up front and it did. Sure, Briggs rushed for 180 yards but the Prexies tackled him early. Keeping Briggs contained on those first few drives had to give Washington's defense a boost.
Grinding out tough yards had to as well.
And, no matter how many big-play athletes Washington has, it's the ability to tackle and pick up tough yards that produce victories in the postseason.
** Doubt this will be the popular opinion on the board but it looked like Briggs was down when he lost the football that was scooped up by Brown for Washington's game-winning touchdown.
** Jefferson-Morgan's 21-20 victory at California in a key Tri-County South Conference game added to one dramatic Friday night.
Ryan Knight's 17-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Kozich with 1:01 remaining provided the winning points and clinched a playoff berth for the Rockets, who are in third place.
The loss hurts California's playoff chances. The Trojans close the regular season at first-place Monessen. Carmichaels, tied with California for fourth place but owner of the head-to-head tiebreaker, concludes its conference slate with winless West Greene.
The Mikes have reached the WPIAL Class A playoffs 11 consecutive years. California has been in the last 10 playoffs.
** Covered high school football for 13 years an can honestly say that I have never seen an ending like Charleroi at Washington.
** South Fayette clinched a share of the Class AA Century Conference championship with an impressive 21-0 victory at Steel Valley. It's the Lions first conference title since moving up from Class A.
South Fayette shared the Ohio Valley Conference title with Bishop Canevin and Chartiers-Houston in 2000 and with Fort Cherry and Brentwood in 1999.
Here's something to consider, with Beaver Falls losing to Center, will South Fayette receive the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL playoffs if they beat Bishop Canevin to wrap up a 9-0 record.
South Fayette and Mt. Pleasant are the only remaining undefeated teams in WPIAL Class AA.
** Trinity's Ken Wilkins has three touchdown catches the past two weeks.