Every day after school, Roosevelt Bess joins some of his former football teammates inside the Parkdale High School gym and watches tapes of the Panthers' games from the 1999 season.
It doesn't matter that Parkdale's season ended on Nov. 6 with a 35-0 loss to Eleanor Roosevelt; Bess and his friends gather to watch the games and remember the season. A week ago Monday, they watched the Bowie game (an 18-9 win). Tuesday, they watched the DuVal game (a good one--Parkdale recorded a 26-25 comeback victory). Wednesday, it was the Suitland game (a 21-6 loss).
"I just watch them every day to remind myself that football is no more," Bess, a senior linebacker, said. "You can still learn from them. You can learn what you should've done at that point of time. You can learn techniques from their defense and ways to charge or pursue.
"[Watching the films] keeps football in my mind. I can't just forget about it and go play in an all-star game."
Bess is one of 80 seniors who have been selected for the inaugural Prince George's County Public Schools all-star football game, which will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at Friendly High School. He is one of the players who might benefit most from the game, which was created to help increase exposure for county players.
"We were not giving our youngsters enough exposure like some of the other jurisdictions," said Parkdale Coach Bob Johnson, who is the president of the county's football coaches' association and will coach the North team. "There's a D.C. all-star game, a Baltimore County versus Baltimore City all-star game. If our guys are not chosen for the Chesapeake Classic [which pits a team of Maryland players against a team of Northern Virginia players], they're done.
"This is going to be a great football game because we have great talent in this county. It will get the players college exposure and that will help them. It could help determine what they'll do the rest of their lives."
Bess wants to play college football. He has taken care of the academic requirements; he has a 3.19 grade point average and scored an 880 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (though he's taking the test again because he feels he can improve). He is a drummer in the school's marching band and would like to major in engineering in college.
But so far, Bess hasn't heard from many college teams. He's written letters to football coaches at a handful of colleges (including Syracuse, Maryland, Morgan State, Towson and Bowie State), but hasn't received responses.
"If I can't play football, I'll still try to go [to college] and major in engineering," Bess said. "But what I really want to do is play football. It doesn't matter where."
Bess was a three-year starter for Parkdale, playing primarily linebacker and defensive end. This fall he had 7 sacks, 46 solo tackles, 51 assists, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles and 1 interception. He is an aggressive player who likes to hit.
But Johnson calls the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Bess a "tweener"--a player who is big, but not big enough to be a college lineman, yet not fast enough to play in the backfield at the next level. "In order for him to play in college, he'd have to go to the right system that needs him," Johnson said.
Bess is hoping that the all-star game will help him. He loves college football--he constantly watches games on television and attends games at the University of Maryland. When Parkdale's season ended with the Roosevelt loss--a loss that ended the Panthers' slim chances at a playoff berth--Bess was the very last one to leave the field.
"He lives for football," Johnson said. "If he gets the chance, he'll make the most of it. He has the desire."
All-Star Football Game
What: First annual all-star game for seniors at Prince George's County public high schools, featuring 80 players divided into North and South teams.
When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Where: Friendly High School.
Admission: $5, children 7 and under free.
CAPTION: Parkdale's Roosevelt Bess hopes to impress college scouts in last game.