For D.C., a real high school football championship

November 30, 2012

Charter football power Friendship Collegiate is expected to give Dunbar a serious challenge. (Craig Hudson — For The Washington Post)

It’s just not about the Turkey Bowl anymore.

Yes, winning the D.C. Public Schools’ yearly Thanksgiving Day football championship game is a big deal. But this year, that’s not the end of the story. Saturday afternoon, Turkey Bowl-winning Dunbar will take the field one more time, taking on Friendship Collegiate Public Charter School in the first-ever D.C. state football championship.

The game is the fruition of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s vision of bringing DCPS and charter school athletics together. In February, he appointed Clark Ray as D.C.’s first “state athletic director,” and made a football championship his first order of business.

“There were a whole lot of different opinions about how to get to where we got, but we got here,” Ray said. There were efforts to include D.C. private schools, such as Catholic football powers Gonzaga and St. John’s, but it didn’t happen this year. Maybe in the future, Ray said.

Regardless, Ray said, he expects the game, at 2 p.m. at Howard University’s Greene Stadium, to be a special event for the players and spectators. “You only have one first time, and this will be it for football tomorrow,” he said. “Hopefully the game will grow in stature. This is our first shot out of the gate.”

And it should be a good game. The Post’s Roman Stubbs breaks down the teams ahead of Saturday’s action. Friendship won a ceremonial coin toss Friday and will be the home team. Admission is $10 for all except  students with a valid high school ID, who pay $5.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | November 30, 2012