Seven members of the Maryland Class AA champ football team from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac had scarcely turned in their pads before starting practice for the basketball season. And, after taking the state title in basketball, few players had time to do a lot of bragging. After all, other sports seasons were beginning with other state titles to capture.
Starting point guard Jay Dove was out running sprints and hurdles for the track team, hoping to become the first athlete in suburban Maryland to be a member of three state championship squads in one season.
Dave Berman and Rob Bowell were exhibiting their skills on the baseball diamond.
And Eric Smith was still practicing his basketball, preparing to play for the Metro All-Stars against the United States All-Stars in last week's Capital Classic at the Capital Centre.
Even basketball coach les Lombardi was still busy, masterminding the stunning 87-79 triumph as mentor for the Metro All-Stars, the first time the local team has won in the five-year series.
Smith made Lombardi's job much easier as he shared game scoring honors with 16 points, connecting on six of seven field goal attempts. Smiths shared the most valuable player homors with Dutch Morley of De Matha of Hyattsville in the local team's upset victory.
As a prerequisite for participation in the Capital Classic, Smith, a three-year star in football, basketball and track, was forced to give up his spring sport this year. The Capital Classic serves as a national showcase for the Washington area's and nation's best high school seniots.
Smiths, believed to the first player in sex years to make first team All-Metropolitan this year in footbakk (where he was a quarterback) and basketball (where he averaged 24 points per game as a 6-foot-4 senior forward), has been deluged with about 200 recruiting letters combined for both sports, and says he is considering about 10 serious offers to play college basketball.
With the spring season just getting underway, Bulldog squads have already participated in seven state tournaments, bringing home a Maryland trophy in cross country, as well as football and basketball.
The recent basketball surprising since the Bulldogs dropped five of their contests. That fifth loss was particularly upsetting because it was at the hands of Whitman of Bethesda, which would manage to win only six of 23 games on the seasons.
Churchill, however, turned around to charge into the state Class AA playoffs, where the Bulldogs disposed of favorites Annapolis (in the semifinals) and Bladensburg with relative ease. The victories were due in part to Smith, who scored 64 points in the two games, including a schools-record 35 against Annapolis, and missed only five of his 26 shots from the field.
The Bulldogs, who finishe their season at 19-8, went 22-3 in 1976-77, only to losing in the county tournament.
Lombardi said a major factor in the team's triumph was his players' experience in state competition, even if it wasn't basketball. "The attitute . . . I think having played in another state tourament helped," said Lombardi, who inherited a losing tradition at Churchill and has compiled a 59-45 record during his five years there. "I'll tell you, (in the finals) we were a little nervous because we were really the underdog. But we practiced patience, poise and preparation - once the game started, we were pretty cool. The kids had a lot of poise and they worked hard."
"We really didn't think we'd win the state," said Smith. "it was pretty bad, especially losing to Whitman. But we weren't a team then. We were just getting off football."