If there is one thing H.D. Woodson Football Coach Bob Headen has not lacked in his 19 years of Interhigh coaching, it's success.
He has taken the Warriors to the city championship game the past three years, winning the title the last two and finishing as the metropolitan area's No. 1 team in 1982. In 11 years at Woodson, he is 129-13, won seven titles, and has never had a losing season.
He also coached the school's girls basketball team to a 20-0 season last year.
Success and experience should give Headen an edge over his younger counterpart, Chris Bullock, Friday night when he leads the East All-Stars against the West in the 15th annual D.C. All-Star Game at RFK Stadium.
This will be the fifth time Headen, 43, has been coach of the East team. Bullock played in the game a few years ago out of Springarn, but this is his first coaching experience.
"I have a lot of respect for him," said Bullock, coach at Coolidge. "He's a guy who succeeds with hard work and dedication and he's excellent at developing talent. I'm a young coach and I'm still learning. I've checked his program out and there are some things about it worth emulating."
This year, Headen has had an easy job preparing the East All--Stars because 10 of the starting offensive players were on his Woodson team last fall, and four of his defensive players will also start against the West.
There has been some minor grumbling in practice from other players, upset that the starting lineup is not more balanced, but Headen's task has not been disrupted by it.
What is noteworthy about the large number of Woodson players in Friday's game is that it means Headen will be without 14 of his best players next season when he tries to win his third straight Interhigh title.
"It's going to be a loss, but we'll still be competitive," he said. "It's my philosophy to develop a program with depth. My players are made aware that if they goof off or don't perform to their capabilities, there will always be somebody behind to step in. It keeps them on their toes.
"We may lose (all-America running back) Nathaniel Cary, but next year we'll have a better all-around backfield, bigger and faster. It's like that in all of our teams at Woodson. Most schools have teams; we have a good program. It's our job to develop our players as best as we can; I think the results show we're succeeding."
Headen, the elder statesmen of Interhigh coaches, is known for his no-nonsense approach, and usually has one of the top-conditioned teams in the area because of a rigorous weightlifting program. But there is a softer side to his dedication, which has kept him going through eight years at Cardoza and 11 at Woodson, despite low pay and long hours.
"I've done it for this long because I am dedicated and devoted to the kids," he said. "It is a great satisfaction for me to see guys come here (to Woodson), then go through four years of college, and come back years later having accomplished something.
"Outside my family, there is nothing else but the work I do for the kids. You know I don't do it for the money because there isn't any. So much of it is volunteer work, but I guess I'll keep doing it until it isn't fun anymore."
While the fun is still there after 19 years, there is always the chance that a bit of the enthusiasm may have dampened. But the past three weeks, the familiar bang of helmets against pads has helped sustain Headen's youth.