Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan was in his second term as president, must-see television included "Miami Vice" and "Dallas," and Michael J. Fox was making a name for himself on the big screen driving a DeLorean in "Back to the Future."
The biggest names in music came together for "We Are the World," and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" topped the charts. Ford Motor Co. unveiled the Taurus, and New Coke hit the shelves.
1985. It's a year Atholton's football players know for a different reason: It was the last time the Raiders made the playoffs.
"That year has been all over our minds lately," Atholton senior lineman Sonny Mazzullo said.
The Raiders (6-3) will get to experience what the 1985 team did if they win at Wilde Lake (5-4) tomorrow night. The Raiders could also make the playoffs with a loss if Patuxent (5-4) loses to Northern (6-3) and Reservoir (5-4) loses to Centennial (3-6).
"For our team, playing Wilde Lake is the biggest game any of us have ever played," Mazzullo said. "I've been coming to Atholton games since I was in kindergarten, and there was never really anything to see. As a player, there were seasons when we'd be happy to win one game. But now, we can make this year one to remember."
Said senior running back Matt Winger: "Right now, everyone on our team believes we are going to make the playoffs. In years before, no one really believed it. Even at the start of the season, we would have been happy to go 5-5."
Atholton is one of three county teams that would make the playoffs with a victory tomorrow. In the 3A East Region, River Hill (8-1) could earn a spot for the third consecutive year by defeating Howard (3-6), and Long Reach (8-1) could get a berth for the second straight year by defeating Mount Hebron (5-4).
River Hill and Long Reach, which are tied atop the county standings, would also get in if Annapolis (7-2) loses to Southern (3-6) or North Harford (8-1) falls to Edgewood (6-3). Severna Park (8-1) has clinched a playoff spot.
"If we win, that means we go to the playoffs and win at least a share of our first county title, so we could reach two of our goals in one game," said Long Reach senior quarterback Ray Gilbert. "If we win the county title, I think it's a chance to leave an impression for everyone to remember us."
Said River Hill senior running back Nick Campanaro: "It's like a new life -- we just have to win. We know we have to go 9-1 because 8-2 isn't going to cut it."
In 2A, Glenelg and Reservoir need help to reach the first round of the South Region tournament next week.
Glenelg (6-3) doesn't have a game this week but will make the playoffs if Patuxent or Atholton loses. The Gladiators would also get in if either Thomas Stone, Howard or Wilde Lake wins.
"All we're hoping for is a second chance," said Glenelg senior running back Trey Crayton. "We're going to practice this week like we have a game this weekend, and, man, am I going to pray."
For Reservoir to make its first playoff appearance in its third varsity season, it must beat Centennial and hope five teams lose to win a playoff-point battle with Atholton for the final spot.
"We can't worry about what everyone else does," Reservoir junior running back Riccardo Dickerson said. "We need to be focused on what we do because we're the only ones who can control how we play."
The other Howard County teams -- Wilde Lake, Howard, Mount Hebron, Centennial, Oakland Mills and Hammond -- have been eliminated from the playoff contention.
"After we lost our first six games, our goal was to become the best 4-6 team to ever play in Howard County," said Hammond senior receiver John Schmeer, whose team has won its past three games. "Since our tough start, we've wanted to prove that we're a team to be reckoned with, and we've played every game like it's the playoffs."