It used to be a rarity for Falls Church High School football players to be recruited en masse by colleges. The team's star player might receive feelers from a meduim-sized state school and occasionally a player received a scholarship. But there was never enough recruiting interest from colleges to upset the normal post-season activity of coaches and players.
Until this year, that is.
When you win, people pay attention. Falls Church High School won the Potomac District Title, the Northern region championship and the state semifinals en route to finishing second in the state.
"The Monday following the state championship game, the recruiters came in busloads," says John Hollowell, who is in his first year as the school's athletic director. "It's been hot and heavy since then."
The list of interested schools includes Kansas, Ohio State, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, VPI, University of Richmond, VMI, Randolph-Macon, Madison, Bridgewater, Furman and others.
Falls Church had 21 seniors on its team this season. "A lot of them will be playing college football in the fall," coach Jim Dick says. A few will be on full scholarships, a few on partial and some with no financial aid.
The heaviest recruiting has centered around five boys who seem capable of attracting full scholarship offers - quarterback Jim Simpson, running back Charlie Gray, center Bucky Methfessel, tight end Norman Burwick and safety Bill Epling.
Visits from recruiters have kept Hollowell and Dick, who is a guidance counselor at the school, busy well beyond their normal working hours. But they aren't complaining. "If it's a burden, it's one we take on with pleasure," says Hollowell. "We're trying to get the best for our boys in the form of grant in aids for scholarship, or just finding the school where they can play football next year if they want to."
To date, no Falls Church players have signed with a college, due mainly to the cautious approach Hollowell and Dick encourage.
"I've seen cases where a player and his parents sign quickly without carefully reading the agreement with the college," Hollowell said. "The kid goes out and breaks a leg the first day of practice and finds out his financial aid is gone. The next thing you know, he's out of school selling hamburgers."
To lessen the chance of such situations occuring, Hollowell and Dick have devised a set of questions parents should ask recruiters and sent them to parents of seniors. A partial list includes questions regarding the student's right to an education if he unable to play football; dormitory,transportation and insurance provisions; practice times; a gurantee against being cut from the team; and out -of-season requirements placed on players.
But Hollowell and Dick must help the recruiters as well. To do so, after the season Dick sent a data sheet on seniors which included the height, weight, college board scores and a blurb about the player's ability to some 200 colleges.
Hollowell and Dick have recruiters follow the same procedure for every boy, whether they're among the five top prospects or not. First, a recruiter contacts either Hollowell or Dick. Then it's Dick's job to discuss with the recruiter how a particular player might fit a team's particular need.
Frequently, a recruiter will want to watch a boy on film before making a visit to Falls Church, so Dick or Hollowell must mail films to the school. Assuming the recruiter wants to talk with the boy as has often been the case since December, Dick arranges a meeting at the school.
"There have been days where boys have hopped from one room to the next, talking to a different recruiter in each room," Hollowell said. "We've had so many requests for film, we've put them on a rotating basis - when one school finishes using a film, they return it to us and we sent it right out to another school."
Colleges may offer 30 football scholarships per year, and Dick indicates they are extremely thorough in their player evaluation. "They're looking for kids with six, speed, and academic ability," Dick sayd, indicating that it's difficult to find all three of those qualities in one 17-or 18 year old boy.
Of Falls Church's five most heavily recruited players, only the 6'3, 220 pound Methfessel, who has a straight A average in four years of high school and who may be the class of 77's valedictorian in June, has an abundance of the three most sought after qualities. Methfessel according to Hollowell schools - Princeton, Dartmouth and Brown - which have shown interest in him.
Hollowell is enjoying a side benefit of having football team. "People who are moving into the area are calling me up asking about our program and facilities." he says. "Word gets around, and they want their kid to play on a championship team. Annadale (High School: benefitted from that for years. Now we can take advantage of it."
Everyone, it seems, loves a winner.