From 1945-1970, Cardozo High School's athletic domination carved a niche in the annals of Washington sports history. The football, basketball and track teams enjoyed wonderful success often culminating with championship trophies. Tradition was rich and spirit was high at the North West Interhigh League school.
But over the last decade, the only Cardozo "team" mentioned around town is the well-known marching band. Cardozo's enrollment has declined and coaches have either been transferred or RIFed (four football coaches in nine years), thus causing its athletic teams to suffer.
The worst casualty has been the football team. Cardozo broke a 21-game losing streak last year under its first-year coach, Phil Edwards, but the program is still hurting.
Edwards said he has used all of 38 players in this year's three games--all one-sided losses. Cardozo lost to Highland Springs, Va., 52-0; Steelton, Pa., 58-0, and Eastern, 31-0, to stretch its latest losing streak to seven straight.
"We lost nearly everyone from last year's team and we have a team now comprised of nearly 50 percent 10th graders," Edwards said. "The kids realize it's going to be rough for a while. But they want to play and they know they'll get a chance to play here. The league doesn't have any money and we can earn some by playing those out-of-town teams."
The losses haven't dampened Edwards' enthusiasm one bit. "I don't think anyone around here can beat Highland Springs or Steelton, anyway, they are fine teams. But the losses aren't frustrating for me because I know what we have to do," he said, "and we are going to get it done.
"We have the nucleus of a good team but the kids have to learn to play football during the games. We have kids on the field who have never put on a uniform before. Right now, we're starting 14 sophomores."
Four of the 10th graders--Dwayne Beatie, Stanley Smith, Anthony Thomas and Norman Bruce--make up the Clerks' defensive line, several others are in the secondary and along the offensive line.
"It's been tough but the kids are doing okay," Edwards added. "We still have a couple of games left before we go into our league play. Hopefully, we'll have gotten better and can be a little more competitive."
In spite of the poor start, Edwards said he hasn't lost any players. In fact, he gave out a few more uniforms last week.
"They were 10th graders, but I'll take all I can get. You have to start somewhere."
Defending Interhigh West champion Coolidge also has gotten off to a slow start, having been shut out in its first two games. The Colts, expected to vie with Theodore Roosevelt for division title honors, scored 177 points in 11 games last year . . . After three weeks, five of the 11 Interhigh league teams have yet to win a game . . . After being shut out by Carroll, 24-0, in its opener, Eastern has blanked its last two opponents by a combined score of 57-0.
Carroll and St. John's have gotten off to flying starts, each winning its first three games. In fact, except for Good Counsel, the entire Metro Conference is unbeaten. The other schools--O'Connell, McNamara, De Matha and Gonzaga--are 9-0, giving the conference a combined 15-3 won-lost mark after three weeks.
St. John's needs basketball games for the month of December. Coach Joe Gallagher is looking for a few early games in preparation for his big weekend doubleheader against highly regarded Mater Dei and Fountain Valley of Los Angeles. De Matha, expected to be ranked one of the top three teams in the nation, and St. John's will play the two visitors Friday night and switch the next night. The doubleheader is tentatively scheduled at St. John's in mid-December.
Top individual performances: Carroll's Andre Best for his three interceptions to lead his team to a 28-0 victory over Neumann of Philadelphia; Spingarn's Michael Hinnant for his two touchdown receptions in a 19-12 victory over McKinley; Gonzaga's Gary McIntosh for his 10-of-17 passing performance for 153 yards and two touchdowns and Scott McCaleb for his three touchdowns in a 41-20 rout over Theodore Roosevelt; Roosevelt's Maurice Johnson for his seven receptions for 221 yards in the loss to Gonzaga; Maret's Terry Coffey for running 110 yards and throwing for two scores in a 12-6 triumph over Quantico.