Despite losing 20 of 22 starters from last season's No. 1-ranked Virginia AAA state champion football team, T.C. Williams Coach Glenn Furman isn't about to concede anything or even call this a rebuilding year.
Rebuilding is the key word and a major task for many of the metropolitan area's high school teams, the majority of which begin practice today. The Interhigh League, Metro Conference and most Maryland schools begin today. Many of the smaller private schools start practice next week.
Because of a schedule revision to compensate for the closing of Fort Hunt, a handful of Northern Virginia schools will begin their seasons Aug. 30. Those schools, including Williams, opened practice last week. The season opener for most area schools is the weekend of Sept. 6.
Furman and several other coaches in Virginia weren't pleased with the early start.
"Many of the kids had to stop working early or cut short vacations," said Furman, whose teams won more games (31) in the last three years than any other local school. "And this heat is a big problem. But you have to practice, so you make the necessary adjustments."
All area schools practice either early in the morning or in the evening to avoid problems with the severe heat.
Furman's biggest adjustment will be replacing his graduated seniors. "We were in this same situation three years ago," he said. "We may start as many as six or seven sophomores, but we have a good group of talented kids. We had an unbeaten jayvee and they are enthusiastic."
There also is plenty of enthusiasm at H.D. Woodson. The Warriors won the Interhigh League East division last year with a 9-0 record and outscored opponents by 217-20. But one player was declared academically ineligible, so Woodson forfeited four games, its right to the title and a berth in the Interhigh championship game at RFK Stadium.
"We will have to prove ourselves all over again," Woodson Coach Bob Headen said.
Headen said this team might be bigger and better than last year's. The offensive line, bolstered by all-Met Roderick Daniels (6 feet 3, 240 pounds) and 6-6, 420-pound Raymond (World) Smith (15 pounds lighter, according to Headen), will average about 265. The defensive line will average just over 250 pounds.
Northern Virginia's major change is the merging of Fort Hunt and Groveton. Fort Hunt was closed because of declining enrollment, so most of its former students will attend Groveton, which was renamed West Potomac.