The stakes will not be as high but Spingarn High School can gain some measure of revenge if it can whip defending Interhigh League Champion Theordore Roosevelt when the teams clash in the football opener for both squads today at Roosevelt at 3:30.
The Rough Riders, who finished 12-1 and won their fourth West Division crown in five years last season, whipped East Division winner Spingarn, 14-8, for the league title last Thanksgiving Day at RIF Stadium.
While Roosevelt is expected to return this Thanksgiving to RFK, which has been a second home lately, Spingarn may have a tough time beating back challenges by improved East Division rivals.
"We know Roosevelt is highly ranked again and playing them the first game of the season has to help us get ready for our division," said Spingarn coach Frank parks. "The tougher opponents you play, the better off you are later on.
"We plan to do everything we can to win, though we may be at a home field always helps, while our offense has not been that sharp yet.We'll just hope."
The one thing Spingarn cannot afford to do is allow the run-oriented Rough Riders to control the ball.
"That's how they whipped us last year, controlling the ball," said Parks. "We have a good nucleus back on defense, but we have to try to keep the ball a little more."
While Spingarn sailed along last season to its finest record (7-3) and first division championship in 10 years, Roosevelt underwent a series of tests that coach Jim Tillerson called "brutal."
Because of a makeup game and a couple of forfeit victories awarded to other teams in the West Division, Roosevelt was forced to play six games in 20 days, culminating with the victory over Spingarn.
Tillerson will not have to worry about that happening again because the Interhigh League has instituted a tie-breaker rule this season. In case of a tie at the end of four quarters, each team will have four downs to score from the 20-yard line. If there is no score, the winner will be decided on the basis of penetration points.
With the talent at Roosevelt, Tillerson may not have to worry about ties or even close scores.
For openers, seatback Wayne Singletary, a 4-5 streak for 40 yards and the leading scorer in the Interhigh in '76, is back. Joining the 5-foot-8, 165-pound senior in the backfield is 6-2, 215-pound fullbacks Burnell Irby, tailback Chris Pompay and quarterback Dwayne Butler. They will operate behind an experienced offensive line averaging nearly 220 pounds.
The defensive unit is strong up front. All-Met defensive tackle James Lewis and all-league linebacker Delantino Newman, the leading tackler for the Rough Riders last year, are the mainstays of Tillerson's "4-4 stack."
"We're in pretty good shape. We didn't have any injuries during the preseason and we're ready to go," said Tillerson. "We opened with Spingarn last year (Roosevelt won, 25-8) and finished with them in the championship. I expect them to be tough. They should be up for us."
While Park is hopeful that his offense will come around, he is confident his defense can stop the Rough Riders.
Three excellent linebackers - Ben Hamilton, Michael Parsons and Michael Gunther - along with all-league cornerback Eric Clark and defensive end John Pitcher, will spearhead the Green Wave's efforts.
Another interesting Interhigh game today matches Bell and Phelps at Spingarn. Both teams, which have scored only four touchdowns and surrendered 1,309 points between them in the last two years, have reason to expect their only victory of the year will come in this game.
In other key games, Washington-Lee (1-0) travels to Chantilly (1-0) for a Northern District game, St. John's (1-0) plays at Coolidge (0-1), Annandale (1-0) hosts T.C. Williams (0-1), Northwestern (0-0) journeys to Largo (0-0) and Robinson (1-0) entertains Fairfax (1-0).