The District’s high school football landscape was altered drastically earlier this spring, following the announcement from District of Columbia Public Schools that the DCIAA would be split into two divisions: the Stars (Anacostia, Ballou, Coolidge, Dunbar, H.D. Woodson and Wilson), and the Stripes (Bell, Cardozo, Eastern, Phelps, McKinley Tech and Theodore Roosevelt).
It was a stunning development in many respects, given that the teams in the Stars will be eligible to compete for a spot in the Turkey Bowl, while the playoff system of the Stripes will lead to a newly developed city championship. Both winners in those respective title games will be eligible for the DCSAA playoffs, which will be in their second year of existence.
Much is changing, including transfer rules in the city’s public school system, but little has changed by way of the strong football traditions at a number of the city’s high schools. While Friendship Collegiate will blaze a new, uncharted path for D.C. charters this fall by playing a national-scale schedule, the blue-bloods of the DCIAA will stay home in October and November to beat up on each other. Here are the top 5 DCIAA and charter school games to watch in 2013:
5. Dunbar at McKinley, Aug. 30, 7 p.m.
McKinley continues to develop under second-year Coach Al Kallay, a former assistant at Gonzaga and the University of New Mexico. McKinley has a litter of excellent skill players, including do-it all senior Anthony Carthen, and Kallay thought his team would’ve been a surprise in the old DCIAA this fall. But after being dropped in the Stripes division in April, his team will have all clear motivation to upset the Crimson Tide in the season-opener.
4. Wilson at Anacostia, Sept. 13, 7 p.m.
This was an early-season matchup a year ago as well, and the Indians snuck up on the Tigers for a 22-20 upset in one of the best league games of the year. Wilson got even in the DCIAA semifinals a couple months later with a 40-20 romp. Anacostia has a younger roster this season, but still has capable players at the skill positions (running back Laquan Barber, corner Xavier Harkum) to make this a dangerous matchup for the Tigers.
3. Friendship Collegiate at Paramus Catholic (N.J.), Nov. 2, 1 p.m.
Friendship Collegiate has one of the area’s most gifted rosters, sporting prospects such as cornerback Jalen Tabor, safety DaeJuan Funderburk and running back Jonathan Haden, among others. But it will be going against one of the country’s top-rated programs in Paramus, which carries the nation’s second-rated prospect in the class of 2014 (according to ESPN) in Michigan recruit Jabrill Peppers. Paramus won this matchup 37-20 a year ago.
2. Dunbar at H.D. Woodson: Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
The Crimson Tide got the best of the rival Warriors in the DCIAA semifinals last season, the only meeting between the two teams. Dunbar returns a strong cast of talented players, including offensive playmakers in running back Malont’a Patterson and receivers James Duff and Delonte Matthews — but will have to face a talented Woodson defense in a game that could have important postseason seeding implications.
1. Wilson at H.D. Woodson, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
This game, and the place it is positioned on the schedule, could be the key contest in determining the regular season champion in the DCIAA. Along with Dunbar, these two teams look the strongest on paper heading into 2013, namely on the defensive side of the ball. Woodson has returning first-team All-Met D’Andre Payne and rising star DuWayne Johnson at the corners to complement a strong linebacker core, while Wilson has two of the best pass rushers in the city in Kareem McDonald and Acey Calhoun. This could be a Turkey Bowl preview.
Did we miss a key matchup? Let us know in the comments below.