Ronald and Robert Thomas aren't twins but defenses can't tell the difference.
The brothers are running backs at Theodore Roosevelt and thus far defenses have seen nothing but their backs. Ronald, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior, runs a 10.8 100 meters and Robert, a 5-10, 165-pound junior, was credited with one of the nation's fastest 100 meter times in 1982--10.23.
"Both are very, very fast," said Roosevelt Coach Jim Tillerson. "They played last year and the speed was always there, they just lacked experience. I felt it was best to bring them along slowly."
Moving slowly has never entered the Thomas brothers' minds. But Tillerson hasn't abandoned his grind-it-out offense in favor of a wide-open attack.
"Our offense hasn't changed that much because we're a faster team," Tillerson said. "I've always believed in taking what the defenses give us, but with the Thomas brothers and fullback Keith Moore, who is also a track man, we can run more pitchouts, more option plays and throw more passes (to the backs). Our first game was impressive, but we made some mistakes."
The few errors the Rough Riders made Friday in their opener went unnoticed. Ronald Thomas rushed for 84 yards on eight carries and scored on runs of 35 and 36 yards and Robert scored on a seven-yard run and caught a 20-yard pass for a touchdown to lead Roosevelt to a 47-0 victory over Spingarn.
It was the most points the Interhigh League West Division power has scored in several years, but Tillerson dismissed the notion that his team will be a high-scoring one because of the Thomas brothers.
"We've only played one game so I don't know what we'll do yet," said Tillerson, whose team had a mediocre 4-6 record and scored 182 total points in 1982. "We know we like to run Ronald inside and get Robert outside. I'm glad I got both of them."
Ronald, who transferred from Wilson two years ago because his mother wanted the brothers together, said, "Playing together is more fun even though Robert gets a little more publicity.
"The offense is good for us because both of us get to do a lot of things," Ronald said. "I didn't play that much last year because I got hurt. So, this year, I'm more experienced, the offense is much smoother and it's much more fun."
Robert, who has his eye on the 1988 Olympics, nearly decided to skip football and concentrate on track.
"I know if I go to college, I'll be running track. So, I thought about just running track all year," said Robert, who won both the Interhigh League 100- (10.30) and 200-meter (20.9) dash championships last year and is considered the fastest high school sprinter in the area. "But I enjoy football, too, and I wanted to play with my brother again. People call us twins, but we don't look anything alike."
Except from the back.
In sports, timing is everything. Last year, defending Interhigh champion H.D. Woodson finished a marvelous season with an 10-1 record, outscored its opponents, 411-33 (an average of 37 points per game), and was the area's No. 1-ranked team. The Warriors, the most impressive team seen in this area in years, would have loved to have played De Matha, the Metro Conference champion, for the city championship. But the football game that used to be one of the Washington area's showcases each Thanksgiving no longer is being played.
This year's Woodson team is a mere shadow of last year's team as evidenced by the Warriors' inability to score in their first two games. Woodson lost at Gar-Field, 18-8, its only touchdown coming on an interception return. And, in the game Woodson wished had been played a year ago, the Warriors were shut out by De Matha Sunday, 19-0.
Top individual performances: Ballou's James Redic, for a 57-yard touchdown run, and safety Darious Bowman, for two interceptions in a 6-0 victory over McKinley; Gonzaga guards Chris Selb and Pete Reilly and center Mike Carr, who opened the holes for five rushing touchdowns, three by Kevin White, in a 48-3 victory over Wilson; Eastern's Frank Bush, who ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in a 26-0 victory over Coolidge.