In only its fifth season as a school, West Potomac climbed to the top of the heap in 1989. The Wolverines capped a perfect 14-0 season by defeating Highland Springs in the AAA Division 6 state championship game.
West Potomac, with a 32-8 regular-season in its four prior years, entered the season as one of the region's favorites. But the schedule provided the Wolverines with solid tests in the first two weeks, which gave West Potomac the impetus for the remainder of the season.
The Wolverines scored with less than a minute to play in the season opener to edge an excellent Yorktown team, 14-7. From there, West Potomac traveled to play always-tough Annandale and again prevailed by the close margin of 14-7.
Coach Dan Meier's squad cruised through the next five weeks before hosting perennial power T.C. Williams in a Saturday afternoon contest. In what has become one of the region's best and hardest-hitting rivalries, West Potomac got a touchdown on its first series and shut down the Titans, 7-0.
Another meeting between these two teams was possible as T.C. Williams qualified for the playoff as a wild-card team. But the Titans lost to surprising Lake Braddock, which then gave West Potomac all it could handle before falling, 14-8, in the regional championship game.
West Potomac's outstanding defense, which allowed just 49 points in the regular season, led it through the state playoffs culminating with the win over Highland Springs.
Another Northern Region team with a chance at a state title was the Stuart Raiders. Stuart lost just once in the regular-season (a 27-18 loss to Mount Vernon in the rain) and its high-powered offense did most of the damage.
Stuart scored a region-best 386 points during the regular season, 122 more than West Potomac, the next highest-scoring team. A much-anticipated Stuart-Marshall region title game never materialized as the Statesmen were stunned in the region semifinals by Edison, which was then belted by Stuart.
The Raiders faced another potent offensive team in Woodrow Wilson of Portsmouth in the Division 5 state semifinals. In one of the more exciting games in recent memory, Wilson prevailed, 35-30. The lead changed hands several times thoughout the game and Stuart appeared to go ahead late in the fourth when Charlie Garner took a swing pass form Darnell White and with a leap at the goal line, went into the end zone.
However, a penalty for an illegal man downfield negated the touchdown and worse news for the Raiders was the leg injury suffered by Garner at the goal line. The senior, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards, was unable to return and Wilson held on for the victory. Wilson won the title the following week by defeating Potomac.
Last season provided many surprises, including Lake Lake Braddock's first Northern District football title. The Bruins denied T.C. Williams the crown for the second straight year after the Titans had won it the previous six seasons. Lake Braddock was the beneficiary of a bizarre fumble return touchdown on the game's final to stun T.C. Williams. But the Bruins proved that win wasn't a fluke by coming from behind to defeat the Titans in the playoffs.
Last year also had the usual Great Falls District battle between Marshall and Madison, which was decided in the final week of the regular season as Marshall beat the Warhawks, 27-7.
Annandale finished second in the Potomac District behind Stuart and qualified for the playoffs in Coach Bob Hardage's final year. Hardage, who had coached the Atoms for 27 years, retired following the season. Unfortunately for Annandale it ran into West Potomac in the playoffs and Hardage's Annandale career ended with a loss.
Some of last year's top players will have a chance to improve in 1990. Derek Fitzgerald of Episcopal returns for his senior season after rushing for 1,729 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. Another 1,000-yard rusher in Centreville's Mike Donovan, hopes to lead the Wildcats to glory in their first varsity season in the always-rugged Northern District. Richard Roberts of Annandale and Andre Yates of Yorktown, who rushed for 920 and 810 yards respectively, will keep Potomac District defenses alert this year.
Mike Cowell is back after leading Washington-Lee to four wins last year by throwing for nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. South Lakes's Brian McGarry was the region's second leading receiver last year with 38 catches and he hopes to improve on that number this season.
Six new coaches enter the Northern Region this year and with Hardage's retirement, Glenn Furman of T.C. Williams, in his ninth year, has been at one school for the longest consecutive stretch. Tom Meier, who coached George Mason last year, takes over at Herndon and his arrival provides an interesting scenario in the season's third week when the Hornets travel to West Potomac. Meier's opposite number that night will be brother Dan, the only coach West Potomac has had in its six years.