Storylines: What to watch for this high school football season

August 29, 2012
Transfers impact area programs

Lake Braddock likely would have been a Virginia AAA Northern Region contender even before the arrival of former West Potomac quarterback Caleb Henderson.

With Henderson, though, the Bruins have gone from contender to favorite to win their third Division 6 region title in four years.

The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Henderson threw for 2,403 yards and 27 touchdowns last season under his father, Eric, who was dismissed as coach in March. Caleb Henderson helped lead West Potomac to the Division 6 semifinals, where the Wolverines lost to then-unbeaten Westfield, 42-34.

Caleb Henderson and brother Jon, a senior linebacker, then transferred to Lake Braddock. Their father is an assistant coach there and also works at the school.

“The boys are doing well,” Eric Henderson said. “[The two schools] run very similar systems, so Caleb’s been able to come in and hit the ground running.”

Henderson has drawn keen intense from several schools from the ACC and Big Ten and has firm offers from Illinois, Michigan State, Old Dominion and Marshall, his father said.

“He’s just so big, has a cannon for an arm, understands the game,” Lake Braddock Coach Jim Poythress said.

Other notable players have switched uniforms, too. Junior running back-defensive back Jonathan Haden transferred to Friendship Collegiate from Carroll. Haden, who accumulated more than 1,000 offensive yards last season, had scholarship offers before he played his first high school game.

Sophomore linebacker Blake Dove transferred to Churchill from Seneca Valley, where he led the Screaming Eagles (9-2) in tackles last season. Churchill went 10-2 last year.

—Preston Williams

High Point seeks elusive victory

High Point Coach Andre Brown strutted down his school’s hallway last week and said something one wouldn’t expect to hear from the man in charge of a football team that has not won a game since November 2007.

“Everybody on our schedule, I think we’re gonna beat,” he said.

“. . . Now, people think I’m crazy, right?” he said. “But I think you have to be a little bit nutso to take a program that hasn’t won a game in five years and try to build it.”

Thirteen schools in The Post’s high school coverage area went winless in 2011. Anacostia has lost 13 straight. Falls Church hasn’t won in 17 games. It’s been 19 games since Brentsville tasted victory. Only two of those 13 teams also dropped every contest in 2009 and 2010, as well. Marriotts Ridge has lost 30 consecutive games.

But no team in the D.C. area possesses a losing streak as long as High Point’s. For 41 straight games, the Eagles have taken the field and walked away in defeat. Brown, who is entering his second season as the team’s coach, wasn’t around when the streak began. Neither were any of his players.

The neighborhood surrounding High Point is saturated with immigrants that have recently moved to the United States. Last year, the school taught students from 68 countries. The student body has a large Hispanic population, and Brown said the school’s baseball and soccer coaches have no problem finding talented players to fill their roster.

— Steve Yanda

D.C. moves toward city championship

The Capital Area Football Conference has added four D.C. public charter schools to its membership for a one-year probationary period. The conference now includes five public charter schools, which will vie this season for an automatic bid into the inaugural D.C. State Athletic Association playoffs, which were established in an attempt to have schools play for a true city championship.

The city’s private schools will largely remain on the sideline for now, as no Interstate Athletic Assocation or Mid-Atlantic Conference schools submitted the required eligibilty forms for football. Gonzaga of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference could compete, while Carroll and St. John’s are approved but have chosen not to compete.

Cesar Chavez, KIPP, Maya Angelou and Options will join Perry St. Prep as charter schools that play in the CAFC. Perry St. Prep already was a member of the conference and, therefore, is not on probationary terms. The five charter schools will face each other this season, and the team with the best head-to-head record will earn an automatic bid into the DCSAA playoffs.

Formed in 2003, the CAFC now encompasses public, private and public charter schools, a unique set-up among D.C. area high school athletic associations.

For the 2012 season, the four new CAFC members will be placed into a division separate from the conference’s previous members: Perry St. Prep, Avalon, Model, Maryland School for the Deaf and Riverdale Baptist.

— Steve Yanda

Maryland tries to play catch-up

Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish entered the preseason with the understanding that he likely wouldn’t have time to go over much situational football before his team opens the regular season Saturday against Franklin. New heat acclimation rules forced Maryland public school coaches to adapt their preseason plans, and the Pumas, coming off a nine-win campaign,will start the year with a reduced playbook and little to no experience, for example, running a two-minute offense.

“If we get into trouble that first week,” Parrish said, “then we’re probably in trouble.”

Teams in all sports were limited this season to one three-hour workout for each of the first five practice days, essentially eliminating two-a-day sessions this season and taking away hours of preseason practice time.

Some Maryland coaches expressed concern about the lost workouts, saying the changes hurt the players by taking away time needed to teach the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. Parrish was among the coaches who advocated starting the regular season a week later to give players more time to get ready, but the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association ultimately chose not to alter the schedule.

While teams should catch up over the course of a 10-game regular season, less experienced squads, including defending 4A champ Old Mill, which returns just one defensive starter, could be in for a rough start as they ease into the season.

“We’ll cut down our offense, that’s what we’ll have to do,” said Magruder Coach Kevin Bernot, who takes over the Colonels after three seasons at Rockville. “For week one, we’re not going to be at 100 percent. We’re hoping by week two, week three we’ll be there.”

— Eric Detweiler

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