Anacostia Coach Willie Stewart and his star linebacker, Delmar Chesley, got a rare second chance to keep their season alive last week. Both hope to take full advantage of it today.
Because of an ineligible player, H.D. Woodson had to forfeit four games last week and lost its opportunity to play in the Interhigh championship game today. So defending Interhigh League champion Anacostia (8-2), a 14-0 loser to the Warriors during the regular season, will return to RFK Stadium today where it will take on Theodore Roosevelt (8-2) at 11 a.m.
"Woodson was the best team, no question about it," said Stewart. "We haven't scored a point yet and if we played them again, we still might not score. Our offense is one of the worst we've had here. We can't move the ball consistently and have relied exclusively on the big play on offense and a good defense."
Chesley has been the backbone of the Indians' defense, leading the team in tackles with 105 first hits and assists. Chesley is the youngest son in a football family. All six older brothers played for area high schools and then in college (four made it to the pros). Delmar Chesley is being touted as having the most potential.
"I've had the advantage of watching and learning from each of them," said Chesley, who is 6 feet 3, 225 pounds. "I missed most of the championship game last year (sprained ankle) and I'm glad to get the chance to win another one."
For Chesley and his teammates to win back-to-back titles, they must find a way to control the speed of Roosevelt tailback Robert Thomas and pass catching abilities of Maurice Johnson.
"They will hurt us if we let them," said Stewart who has a 3-0 mark in title games. "Thomas is so fast if he gets to the outside, he's gone. And Johnson is a quality receiver. We held them down pretty good the first time we played (Anacostia won a nonleague game, 14-6) but Thomas can break a long one at any time."
Roosevelt, in the title game for the seventh time under Coach Jim Tillerson (3-3), had a few anxious moments before it began preparing for the Indians. Because of forfeits in the West Division, the Rough Riders at first thought they had to meet McKinley or Wilson in a playoff. The following day, another forfeit awarded Roosevelt the division title and a berth in the final.
"It was pretty rough mentally on both the team and me," Tillerson said. "It's tough preparing when you don't know who you are going to play. Our kids have worked all year to get to this game and I hope the events leading up to it haven't tarnished the game."
Thomas, one of the top three 100-meter performers on the East Coast, has gained 1,091 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. Since Roosevelt starts a sophomore quarterback, DeVarryl Williamson, and Tillerson is run-oriented, anyway, Johnson has caught only one touchdown pass in the last six games. For the year, Johnson, a senior, has 26 receptions for 429 yards and five touchdowns.
While Tillerson prefers long, time-consuming drives, Stewart wants to get his points in a hurry. Split end/kick returner Quintin Butler has won two games with last-minute big plays and put the Indians in position to win two others with clutch catches. He has seven touchdowns.
"He's our home run man," Stewart said."We lost a lot of people last year and we've had to rely on the big play. Quintin has done that for us. I'm surprised we've done as well as we have."