The Steelers have Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Loren Toews. The Rams have Jack Reynolds, Bob Brudzinski and Jim Youngblood. West Springfield has T.J. Murray, Bill Harvey and David Spencer.
Oops, maybe the leagues got mixed up, but the meaning should be clear.
Many football teams, from the NFL to the 6-and-under Pee Wee Stompers, can boast one great linebacker, but few can praise a trio.
Murray (at 6-foot-3 1/2 and 200 pounds), Harvey (6-2 and 225) and Spencer (6-2, 197) are about as fine a trio of linebackers as one will find in high school. They are big, fast, strong, excellent athletes and have what Coach Jim Jensen calls "that good game intelligence."
They show "all the qualities linebackers should have at any level," Jensen said. "They play the run well and play the pass well. They're the best group we've ever had since I've been here (nine years)."
West Springfield, hoping to atone for a quick exit in last year's Virginia AAA Northern Regional playoffs (a 35-22 loss to Madison in the first round), has jumped to a 3-0 record.
Using the Tennessee bubble defense, which combines a 5-2, 5-3 and anything else, the Spartans have rolled past Annandale, 27-6; T.C. Williams, 20-7 and Lake Braddock, 37-0. The bubble defense usually funnels everything up the middle, where linebackers finish off the play. And Murray, Harvey and Spencer have done just that.
"You guessed it; they are one, two and three in tackles and big plays," Jensen said. "But we have a few other good defensive players, too. They have improved quite a bit playing with Murray and the guys.
"West Springfield has always had good linebackers. And our assistant coaches, Mark Hyman and Bill Hanley, have done a fine job with them.Maybe we just breed good linebackers."
The Spartans finished 10-1 last year, the best mark in the school's 13-year history. With the new alignment of the Northern District (the five teams play each other twice), Jensen is much more apprehensive about repeating as district winner.
"It's a much bigger challenge this year," he said. "But we have the potential to be as good or better than last year."
"We don't do a lot of fancy things," said Harvey, the middle linebacker. We just play tough defense."
Jensen has established a modest set of defensive goals this year. He would like his unit to limit opponents to 10 points or fewer. 100 yards ro fewer rushing and 100 yards or fewer passing, and to force at least five turnovers per contest.
Talk about looking ahead! Bell Coach Ed Torrence has already forgotten about his team's first on-the-field victory since the '73 season and starting preparing for this week's game at Fairmont Heights.
"That one is over," Torrence said. "Got to get ready for the next one."
Bell, which has claimed only two ties and a forfeit win in five seasons, topped fellow vocational school Chamberlain, 14-6, last week.
"The kids were extremely happy about it," Torrence said. "The fellows played real well, considering we haven't had any game action, no scrimmages or anything, plus our first-string quarterback was injured in the first quarter. So, the score could have been -- no it should have been -- much worse.