The game had just begun when Edison's Antoine Ross went down. A simple crossing pattern had turned into a major headache for the senior receiver. As the pass intended for Ross sailed harmlessly behind him, T.C. Williams' safety Eric Anderson delivered a tremendous hit to Ross' chest, leaving the injured Eagles' player motionless near midfield.

Welcome to T.C. Williams' football.

As much as any one play can define a football team, Anderson's tackle captured the essence of the T.C. program. It was aggressive, well-executed and clean.

"I think {those types of tackles} excites the defense and the offense. It motivates us to do better," Anderson said. "It {hurting someone} is not something we do on purpose. We just like going out and showing them who's supreme -- and we like to do it early."Titan Pride

Since Glenn Furman became coach in 1982, the T.C. Williams Titans have been the most dominant high school football team in the Metropolitan area. In that time, the Titans have compiled a record of 58-9-2 and have not lost a game in the Northern District (26-0-2), winning five consecutive district titles. In 1984 and 1985 they won Northern Region championships and the 1984 team won all 14 games and the AAA State Championship.

This year's team is 7-0 and ranked number one in the Metropolitan area. With West Springfield (1-6), Oakton (3-4) and Hayfield (1-6) remaining on its schedule, likely will finish the regular season undefeated. Running back Scott, the Northern Region's leading rusher, keys an offense that's averaging nearly 26 points per game despite losing its starting quarterback Troy Bailey to injury after only one game. Anderson, Eric Traynham, DeWayne Evans and Tracey Fells lead the region's stingiest defense, continuing a tradition that began six years ago.

While good coaching, excellent talent and the football exposure in the junior high schools fuel the T.C. program, the players, coaches and supporters have come to recognize another ingredient in their formula for success -- Titan Pride.

"They {the coaches} stress Titan Pride. It's a tradition," said Bren Lowery, a former Williams' running back and now a starter at the University of Maryland. "Sometimes you get new players and they don't know what it means -- they just don't understand it. You have to explain it to them."

Twenty-four players have received full football scholarships in Furman's tenure, including 11 from the 1984 team. Lowery says the past success is something that helps motivate Titans' teams from year to year.

"Knowing that you have great players that have come through the program makes you want to play to your full potential," he added. "You have to do your best and show them you're just as good."

The players are constantly reminded of the past success and it's used by the coaching staff as a motivational tool.

"We felt pressure because of the team and people before us and the coaches would always throw the '84 team at us when they talked about perfection," said Byron Sneed, a 1986 all-Metropolitan defensive tackle, now playing at the University of Alabama. "The seniors on our team got together and talked long and hard about not being the team to lose the {Northern District} streak."

Titan Pride has evolved since Furman's first season in 1982 and is emphasized down through the Alexandria junior high schools. George Washington and Hammond, the two feeder schools for T.C. Williams, have football programs where eighth and ninth grade prospects are exposed to the T.C. system long before they reach the high school. The junior high school teams compete against area freshman teams. Currently, George Washington is unbeaten in its last 44 games (42-0-2), continuing a tradition that several current Titans' standouts emerged from including, Lydell Scott, Eric and Tony Traynham and Ricky Marrow.

"We ask three things to be instilled in the younger players," said Furman. "Have fun, be taught the basics and be taught discipline within our system. We feel we'll continue to be successful at our level if they're taught those three things. They {the junior high players} are the life blood of our program.

"We do attend their games and our staff is available to them whenever we're needed. They run the same offensive and defensive systems as us and they're taught Titan Pride. We think of them as Baby Titans."

After nine years without a championship, the 1982 Titans captured the Northern District crown and upset top-seeded Madison in the first round of the regional playoffs, before losing in the regional championship game.

During that first year, Furman spoke to civic groups and sports clubs around Alexandria, making himself visible and generating support. Today the local community is a big part of Titan Pride. "We're something people can talk about. They can rally around the fact that T.C. is number one."

Dee-Fense, Dee-Fense

In 69 games since Furman became coach, the Titans have allowed an average of only seven points per game. The 1984 team recorded nine shutouts and gave up just 56 points in 14 games. This year's defense has allowed just four touchdowns although an offensive turnover and a punt return have accounted for another 14 points.

There's nothing subtle about the Titans' defensive approach. When Anderson leveled the Edison receiver he simply continued the tradition of aggressiveness and intimidation that has become their trademark. They'll knock you down and, if you get up, they'll knock you down again. By the second half, most teams don't feel like getting up anymore.

"Year in and year out, they hit as hard as any team we play," said West Potomac Coach Dan Meier, whose team stopped a 17-game Titans' win streak in 1985. "Against some teams, that gives them the advantage the minute they walk on the field."

"We pride ourselves on aggressive, hard-hitting team tackling," said Dennis Shaw, an assistant since 1967 and Titans' defensive coordinator since 1979. "It's a psychological and physical way to win games. I don't think teams are necessarily intimidated before the game, but once the game starts we like to intimidate, and early."

Though intimidation often has negative connotations, opposing coaches seem to agree that though the Titans are taught to play rough, they play fair.

"They are never given enough credit for being a clean team," said Meier. "It's always a pleasure to play them because they always play a clean hard-hitting game. Their coaches do a wonderful job with that."

"I enjoy playing T.C.," said W.T. Woodson Coach Ken Poates. "I think they have always handled themselves in a fashion that is exemplary. During the game you don't hear any verbage from them. They hit hard but then they help pick you up. They're good people and it's because of Glenn {Furman} and the way he runs the program."

The Furman Years

Glenn Furman grew up playing football in Waynesboro, Pa. He graduated from West Virginia University and in 1963, at the age of 20, became an assistant coach at Hammond High School in Alexandria. In 1971-72 he was an assistant at T.C. Williams before returning to Hammond as head coach of its junior varsity program, where in the next eight years he compiled a record of 59-1. In 1982 he became head coach at T.C. Williams.

He's not easy to play for but is easy to like. He admits his greatest strength as a coach may be his ability to relate to his players. "My relationship with the athletes is one of the biggest things I have going for me. We've developed a closeness, the willingness to give. It's a trust." He is very demanding and often loud when trying to extract extra effort from his players. But despite his screaming and occasional sarcasm, the players respond.

"He knows when to be lenient but he keeps on top of things," said Scott. "He's a good motivator. He doesn't put you down just to put you down -- he's just trying to make you do better."

"Glenn puts everything on the line for the good of the team," said Shaw. "He's very emotional but it's an enthusiastic emotion. The kids understand that type of emotion and when he yells it's always for positive reasons."

It's Furman's positive approach that is the key to the Titans' game plan. While they scout opponents, they are far more concerned with their own performance. The Titans offense is a basic, almost simple veer with very few surprises and though teams know what is coming, few have been able to stop it.

"If you prepare and worry about {yourself} playing well you win," said Furman. "We're going to do what we do best regardless of what you do. We run an option offense that's based on reacting to what they do once the game starts.

"What we want is a team saying 'we can't do this against T.C.' and they change to do something different. When they change, it's helping us."

Furman is quick to praise his coaching staff, a group of six assistants who have been together since 1982. In particular he singles out Yoast.

Yoast is currently the Titans' special team coach, but Furman credits him as being the most influential force in his coaching career. As an assistant to Yoast at Hammond, Furman "learned how to coach football. Before that I thought all you had to do was line up and hit. He taught me to treat the players as gentlemen and how to give responsibility to my coaches."

Along with Yoast and Shaw, Bill Allan (secondary), Don Futrell (offensive backs), Robert White (receivers), Jimmy Colantuoni (offensive line) fill out his staff. Furman says that the coaching staff's continuity is a major plus for him and has played a large part in T.C. Williams' success, including helping the Titans overcome several injuries to key players through the years. The most recent injury, the broken leg suffered by Bailey in the second week of this season.

"When a great player goes down another steps in. That's the mark of a championship team and it's a credit to our coaches. . .the other kids are always prepared," Furman said. "It's a quality, veteran staff. They are very knowledgable and have been at it along time. They're a major part of our success." The Tradition Continues

Rashad Presley was sitting quietly on the sideline before a recent T.C. Williams' game. There to watch his step-brother Fells, the Titans' 6-foot-2, 245-pound defensive lineman, the nine-year old Presley dreamed of the day when he would wear the red and blue of T.C. Williams. The long hard practices don't scare him and he also seems to understand the loud voices of the coaches. None of that would bother him. He already understands the prerequisite needed to play football for T.C. Williams.

"I just like to hit people," he said.