Northern Virginia high schools again will open their football season before Labor Day, continuing a recently established precedent but on an expanded basis.
Eighteen area schools, including eight Northern Region AAA schools, will play in 11 games Friday night at 8 o'clock.
T.C. Williams, the Virginia State AAA champion in 1984, and Mount Vernon, the AAA state champion in 1983, open against Edison and Wakefield, respectively.
The Titans, who were undefeated last season and own the area's longest winning streak (14 games) have only three starters back, but Coach Glenn Furman believes "the carryover in attitude by the second stringers and JV players" is invaluable.
Two linebackers, Frank Sanders, a 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, and Lamont Windsor (5-10, 170) lead the defense. Offensively, Furman will start Spencer Jenkins at quarterback. Jenkins, a transfer from Florida, is a former wide receiver who Furman moved to quarterback because of his athletic talent.
Edison, 3-6-1 (1-4 in the Gunston District) last year, will have its hands full when it hosts the Titans.
Mount Vernon, 4-6 last year (8-2 before forfeits), has the personel to put together a winning season, according to Coach Bruce Patrick.
Offensively, tackle to tackle, Mount Vernon averages more than 215 pounds, but Patrick cites the defensive unit, led by Shown Grantz, a 6-foot, 200-pound linebacker, as being sharp in preseason scrimmages. "All of it has been strong, against the run and the pass," Patrick said.
Running behind center Andy Cook (6-2, 216), right guard Ken Jefferson (6-5, 245), left guard Ed Cunningham (6-4, 236), right tackle Matt Jefferson (6-4, 200), left tackle Steve Hardeman (5-11, 180) and tight end William Hinshaw (6-3, 195) will be quarterback Marc Cottom, fullback Darvile Smith, and halfbacks Mike Wilson and Kevin Treakle.
Against host Mount Vernon, Wakefield will use nine new players on defense. Rick Moten, a 6-1, 195-pound linebacker, and Chris Lavat, a 5-10, 180-pound defensive end, are the only returning lettermen. Coach Jim Hufschmitt's offense is not much more experienced; it will have six new players. The most promising spot on offense is quarterback, where junior Joe Lowe will start.
Annandale, which finished 5-5 (3-3 in the Potomac District), opens at Woodbridge. Defensively, senior Mark Lenert, who kicked a 47-yard field goal last year and will kick again this year, returns in the secondary, as do Chris Maslyn and Gassan Kassira at linebacker. On the defensive line, Ken Sharperson and Phil Strother are mainstays.
Woodbridge finished 1-8-1 last season, but Coach Bill Holsclaw believes he has a dozen players with enough experience to improve, although he says size and speed are weak points. Mark Beem, Tom Morrison and Jarrett Powell will play both offense and defense. Beem will play offensive and defensive tackle, while Morrison and Powell play tight end on offense, and strong safety and defensive end, respectively.
West Potomac, in its first game ever, plays at Langley. Coach Dan Meier says that Fort Hunt and Groveton, the two schools which merged to create West Potomac, were only 6-14-1 last year, so he is reserved when it comes to predicting success for the new team.
The Wolverines employ a 4-4 set defensively to make the most of a talented linebacking corps. Bobby Reddish, a 6-6 junior, is an outside linebacker and Dean McKnight, at 6-3, 210 pounds, and Randy McCray, at 6-1, 195 pounds, are the inside linebackers.
Lee High School, which finished 4-5-1 last year (1-3-1 in the district) opens at Stonewall Jackson. Center Dallas Gibson and left guard Keith Howard lead an offense that has four players returning.
Bishop O'Connell of the Metro Conference will host Loudoun County at Washington and Lee. Jim Hayes will be in his first season as head coach although he has been an assistant for 10 years.
But O'Connell does have some good athletes returning from its 8-4 team including John Gutter, who will play quarterback.
In other games, Fauquier will be host to Albermarle, North Stafford plays at James Monroe, Potomac will be host to Petersburg, Stafford is at Spotsylvania and Osbourn will be host to Armstrong Kennedy.