Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said he could not remember when he was more nervous.
Gibbs was not talking about either of the last two Super Bowls, or his first game as a head coach. He was describing his feelings as one of the estimated 7,000 fans at the Oakton-Madison nonleague football game last weekend. Gibbs' son J.D., a sophomore, made his debut as starting quarterback for Oakton after transferring from Bethlehem Baptist.
"It's so different when it's your own kid playing," the usually stoic elder Gibbs said to explain his anxiety during Madison's 25-21 come-from-behind victory.
J.D. Gibbs, who completed 18 touchdown passes in leading Bethlehem to an 8-3 record last year, threw well against Madison, but his teammates dropped several on-target passes. He completed six of 14 for 94 yards and had one intercepted. He ran three times, each on third or fourth down in short-yardage situations, and made the first down each time.
Joe Gibbs came away impressed with another quarterback -- Madison's Jonathan Hall. A senior, Hall completed 10 of 19 for 199 yards and threw a 20-yard pass to John Arehart with 1:06 remaining for the winning points.
"He is some kind of high school quarterback," said the Redskins' coach.
It was a split decision for the four Northern Virginia high schools with new head coaches this fall.
W.T. Woodson, with Coach Kenny Poates, defeated Lee, with new Coach Steve Singstack, 24-7, as John Legters scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Stuart defeated Marshall, 6-0, to make Tommy Arehart's coaching start a good one, but opening night was not so pleasant for Fred Welch at Chantilly. The Chargers lost to South Lakes, 21-12, as Tony Arko threw three touchdown passes for the Seahawks.
Poates moved to Woodson after four years at Chantilly, where he built a program that produced the school's first district football championship in 1982.
"My first year there, there were 28 kids out for the varsity and we went 3-7," said Poates, who spent nine years as an assistant at Robinson.
Poates said he feels some pressure moving to a school that traditionally has been a football power.
"At Chantilly, they were just waiting for a winner," Poates said. "But at Woodson, it is something they are used to and expect. I told the kids the situation I was in, but I told them we are all in it together.
For Welch, who had been on the staff with Poates at Robinson and moved to Chantilly as an assistant after Poates took the main job there, the opening loss was not exactly the way he wanted to start head coaching after 20 years as an assistant.
Welch said he is glad to have been finally made a head coach, but added he was not obsessed with the thought. In the two prior decades, he had applied for only two other vacant positions in the region.
"Down inside, you want it," said Welch, "but you don't just go out and become a head coach. There are friends of mine who suffered because they got into the wrong school and wrong situation. I think this is the right situation for me."
Patrick Mann, a 1984 graduate of Gar-Field and now at Georgetown University, and Cedric Matterson, a 1984 graduate of T.C. Williams, have been named to the Adidas high school all-America track and field team.
Mann was recognized for his times in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and the 110-meter high hurdles. Matterson was honored for his performances in the 800-meter run.