An Atlantic Coast Conference assistant football coach watching Theodore Roosevelt High's Robert (Speedy) Thomas had a succinct scouting report: "Look at that speed! There's nothin' like it, and there's no replacement for it," said N.C. State 's Jack Glowik.
In that game, Thomas rushed 195 yards and scored three touchdowns, leading Roosevelt to a 26-19 defeat of Cardozo.
So far this season, Thomas, a senior, has led the Rough Riders to a 7-2 overall record, 4-0 in the Interhigh and the West Division title.
Friday, Roosevelt completes the regular season when it plays at home against Coolidge in a 2:45 game. Then the Rough Riders will await the outcome of Saturday's game between H.D. Woodson and Anacostia to find out who they will face for the Interhigh title Thanksgiving day at R.F.K.
Thomas has carried the ball 125 times, gained 898 yards, scored 14 touchdowns and one extra point, for 86 points, tops in the Interhigh
He is being recruited by most of the ACC schools -- including Maryland -- and by Ohio State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Temple and West Virginia.
"We get a post card every week from Ohio State, and a phone call once a week from N.C. State," said his mother. Carolyn.
Thomas said he probably will favor a school "where the weather is hot year-round."
He is in his third varsity football season at Roosevelt, playing for Coach James Tillerson who earlier this season won his 100th game.
Tillerson first noticed Thomas in the Beltway League as he ran away from defenders for Ollie Thompson's team. "At that time," Thomas said, "I knew him, but I didn't think he knew me."
The two soon got acquainted very well. But Tillerson decided to bring his halfback along slowly and didn't play him much his sophomore season. "I knew he would be great," Tillerson said. "But I wanted to start him out slowly. He was a youngster at the time, and playing varsity was a big adjustment. I didn't want his confidence hurt."
In his junior year, Thomas showed potential and it looked as if the backfield, which also included his brother, Ronald, could carry Roosevelt to the division championship.
Unfortunately for the brothers and their teammates, late-season losses ended postseason thoughts. "We were supposed to go (to RFK Stadium) last year," said Robert, "but I guess we got big-headed. We messed up and lost our last two games."
Although Ronald has graduated, Robert plans to do well representing the West on Thanksgiving.
After the football season, he will start his third outdoor track season, running the 100, 200 and quarter mile and the 440, 880 and mile relays.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder did 100 meters in 10.25 seconds last year in an outdoor meet.
"He's a great college prospect," Tillerson said. "I think his best football is still ahead of him. I wish all football players would run track; you can't substitute for speed. He's a sprinter and can dish out punishment."
Tillerson is not the only coach who knows how much damage speed can inflict on a defense.
"When we played them," Anacostia Coach Willie Stewart said, "I just kept telling my defense, 'Don't let him turn the corner! Don't let him turn the corner!' " Stewart's Indians beat Roosevelt, 14-6, this season.
"We worked on stopping Thomas all week in practice," Stewart said. "We were concerned about his speed. Our primary factor was not to allow him to use his sprinter's speed, because once he turns the corner, nobody will catch him -- it's as simple as that."
Gonzaga is the only other team that has managed to stop Thomas, beating Roosevelt, 28-0.
According to Roosevelt's fullback, Keith Moore, "Most of the time you don't need a full block to spring him; I just try to bump my man enough to let him get to the sidelines. He makes you look like a good blocker. As the game rolls on and we start to roll up yardage, I'll just look at him and say, 'Come on Rob, let's take it 'round the end.' "
Thomas likes to watch Los Angeles Raiders' running back Marcus Allen for a special reason. "A lot of people said he was too slow and wasn't going to make it."
Although he may not have all of Allen's talents, no one is saying Thomas is too slow.