Anacostia is favored to win the East, while the West may be a three-team race as Interhigh football opens with a revised league schedule.
Vocational schools Chamberlain and Phelps have dropped football, which leaves the East Division with only five schools. Bell dropped football two years ago, leaving six schools in the West.
The East teams will play six league games, including two against the West. The West will play five league games. Cross-divison games will count as league games for the East and nonleague games for the West.
"We got a lot of kids back from last year," said Anacostia Coach Willie Stewart. He he has 10 players back on offense and nine on defense. Two players, Martin Chesley and Darrell Hamilton, are preseason all-America selections.
"Every recruiter in the country has been to Anacostia to see me about him (Chesley)," said Stewart about his 6-foot 4, 210 pound tight end and linebacker. Chesley has narrowed his choices to Southern California, Texas, Nebraska and North Carolina.
Stewart calls Darrell Hamilton "the most versatile athlete in the Interhigh." Hamilton, an offensive linemen, also plays center on the Indians' basketball team. He led the Indians to the Interhigh basketball final last winter.
"He's going to go football," said Stewart. While Chesley receives the preseason attention, his brother Demar will anchor the linebacking postion for Anacostia. "He's going to be the best one of the Chesley family," says Stewart.
Three-year starter Joe Clark will return at quarterback. Anacostia has all-East Reggie Warfield, Pernell Moore and Thomas Jackson returning on offense. On defense, veterans Don Patterson, Leonard Matthews, Norvel Watson and Frank Jeffries return.
Ballou has back Rodney Nettles, an offensive guard and defensive captain and linebacker.
"I feel really good about this team," said Coach Steve Powell. Ballou plans to throw a lot this year and during the offseason undertook a weight program. "Our kids has been in the weight room since December," said defensive Coach Rick Alexander.
Powell will depend on quarterback William Jerome for its passing game. "He had an exceptional spring practice," said Alexander.
Ballou has Ronald Shelton, James Riddick and William Conway returning to the running back and wide receiver spots. Bernard Franklin and Ronnie Stokes will anchor the offensive line. On defense, Ullysee Woods and Ramon Hurbert, Darious Bowman, Darrly Green, Dewyane Perry will return on defense.
Eastern will depend on young players. The Ramblers have only 18 players returning. "We're going to be a young team, but it doesn't matter about being young. It's a matter of desire," said Eastern Coach James Fields, who has three-fourths of his offense returning.
"I lost my whole defensive secondary and that's one of the weakest areas of the team," he said. Fields has picked up three players from Chamberlain. Mark Palmer and Herb Smith will join the offense and Simon Yeare the defense.
Spingarn will emphasize offense. "We are trying a new approach to football," said Green Wave Coach George Spicer about his triple option offense. "It's pretty hard to score if you don't get your hands on the ball."
Spicer's offensive backfield will average around 200 pounds. Spigarn will be strong in the middle (linebackers) and weak in the interior line and at safety.
Joe Lindsey, Clifton Barcliff, Mike Hinnant and Steve Roy are some of Spingarn's 20 players returning.
H.D. Woodson, the area's No. 1 team last year, lost 25 players to graduation. "We don't have experience at every position, as we did last year," said Coach Bob Headen. H.D. Woodson, which had the biggest team in high school football last year, will be lighter. "Maybe 10 to 15 pounds less," according to Headen.
Woodson has two players named preseason all-America, to provide leadership. Otis Pollard has been a starter ever since he arrived at Woodson and fits into Woodson's mold of "strong linebacking."
"He's going to be an outstanding player," said Headen.
Steve Harrison will play offensive and defensive tackle for Woodson. "He's a very coachable guy and my most dedicated athlete."
Headen has upgraded the schedule by adding De Matha, Gar-Field and Potomac (Va.).
Woodson will have Wayne Sescoe, DuVal Bullock, Clarence Boykin, Thomas Millard and James Stuckey on offense. John Stokes, Kevin McGregor and Lawrence Carter on the defense.
In the West, Cardozo broke a three-year losing streak against Dunbar last fall, but has graduated starting quarterback John Carpenter. The Clerks hopes for better fortune this year. "Discipline is the most important thing. I have to take it upon myself to get the team together," said cocaptain Jeffrey Chappell.
Tyrone Beabers, vying for the starting quaterback postion, will take it upon himself to end Cardozo's offensive problems. "I'm going to work hard for it." Reginald Benton, Kevin Brockette and Latare Whitacker are Cardozo's key players returning.
"We are going to be a scrappy team this year," said Coolidge's Coach Chris Bullock, who led the Colts to the West title last year. "We lost some key players and we are really going to miss them." Bullock has his entire defensive backfield returning. "If the young guys on the offensive line step in I think we have a chance (of wiining the West). Inexperience is going to hurt us."
The Colts have running back Chucky Miles and quaterback Courtney Adams returning to the offense, Michael Artis and Edward Clark returning to the defense.
McKinley is rebuilding, according to Coach Henry Saunders. "We lost our whole defensive backfield," said Saunders, who will depend a lot on underclassmen. "The underclassmen seem gung-ho about the season. We lost 15 players from last year's team."
Running back Dexter Kelly and quarterback James Barnes will anchor the offense. Tackle Marques Bishop will be the key player on defense.
Dunbar will have the smallest team in the Interhigh this fall with only one player over 200 pounds. "We'll be small, but we will rely on speed," explained Dunbar Coach.
Running backs Anthony Savoy and Darrell Wright, along with wide receivers Andre Powell and William Mayo, will lead the offense. Frank Warren, Jeffrey Lane, Mark Irving and Charles Bond will be top players on defense.
Roosevelt will try to rebound from a poor season with one of the finest backfields in the metropolitan area. brothers Robert and Ronald Thomas will start in the backfield, and be replaced by speedsters Keith Moore and Richard Graham. Robert Thomas is the Interhigh sprint champion holding the area record in the 100 meters at 10.3. Ronald finished fourth in the Interhigh championships with 10.4.
Roosevelt Coach Jim Tillerson describes Moore and Graham as "good tailbacks with a lot of speed." The Rough Riders' offensive line will have Quincy Royal, Wesley Lawson, center Darryl Tilghman and tight end Maurice Johnson. Sam Guinyard, Mark Wills, Gary Wynter and Wilbert Rice will anchor the defense.
A year ago, Wilson had a chance to win it first title in recent years, but lost to Coolidge, 28-7, in the final game. Coach Horace Fleming will start over with a bunch of inexperienced players. "It depends on how quickly we bring the inexperience players along," he said about another chance at the West title. The Tigers graduated 17 players.
Ronald Dozier will return at quarterback. He will receive help from Jason Howell and Robert Smith in the backfield. Kevin Burton, Ron Taylor and Tommy Thompson return on defense.