When T.C. Williams' Glenn Furman and Mount Vernon's Bruce Patrick shook hands following the Majors' 23-20 win in last year's Virginia AAA Northern Region final, the two coaches may have had the same thought: "See you again here next year."
Unlike most coaches of outstanding teams, Furman and Patrick are not shy about suggesting they have excellent squads.
"I have to be honest. We have some very good material here," said Patrick, who led the Majors to the title after they lost their first five games (including a forfeit) in 1982. "What we accomplished last year left a very positive effect on our team and we hope to pick up from there."
Furman is even more positive. "I'd be very, very disappointed if we were not a quality team, because we know we are a regional contender."
Williams, The Washington Post's preseason No. 1 team, will open its season against tough Woodbridge at 8 tonight. Mount Vernon also has a tough opener, at home against Chantilly, also at 8.
Patrick and his Majors are familiar with Chantilly, having faced the Chargers twice last year. Chantilly shut out Mount Vernon in their opener a year ago, 14-0. But Mount Vernon won the one that counted, 20-14 in overtime in the regional semifinals.
Even though the Majors have six potential starters out with injuries, quarterback Frank Smith is optimistic.
"We plan to get off to a good start this year, and leave no doubts about who the best team is (Mount Vernon finished 6-7 last year)," Smith said. "We're a very quick, explosive team that can score a lot of points. But our defense is even ahead of the offense."
The Majors' defense is led by all-Met nose guard Sean Scott, defensive back Paul Fisher and linebacker John Kymiszewski. Scott and Kymiszewski double as offensive linemen and Fisher will be one of the tailbacks.
Williams could be the quickest team in the area. "Quickness is our No. 1 asset," Furman said. "We have six starters who run 4.6 40s or better."
Four of those players--tight end-safety Shawn McNeil and tailbacks Julius Byrd and Brent Lowery and quarterback Glen Williams--played major roles in the Titans' success last year and are expected to do so again this season.
Furman is high on his offense and the defense should be just as strong. With seven starters back, including McNeil and tackle Joe Ledbetter, the Titans may allow even fewer points than the 57 they gave up in the regular season last year.
"We're still a young team, but a young team with experience," Furman said. "Certainly, the experience of getting to the region championship helps us. We don't have a lot of size and our depth is thin, but we're very much improved from a year ago. Everyone is picking us very high and there's pressure on us.
"We're starting with a very tough team. Woodbridge beat us last year (10-7) and we understand they have 13 starters back and are picked to win the Commonwealth District. Even though this is a nondistrict game, we consider this one very, very important."