Churchill High School Coach Fred Shepherd hasn't endured too many losing seasons. So when the Bulldogs, winners of 39 of 46 games from 1982 to 1985, managed a paltry 93 points and finished 3-7 in 1986, it was a shock.
But last year almost has been forgotten. The seventh-ranked Bulldogs look like the Bulldogs of old, having won their first three games, and again are competing for the Montgomery County AA title and a Maryland state playoff berth.
Shepherd will find out if his team is back for sure tonight when it entertains fifth-ranked Seneca Valley (3-0) in a key league matchup at 7:30.
Also tonight, No. 1 T.C. Williams (2-0) travels to Madison (2-0), No. 4 Marshall (2-0) plays host to South Lakes (2-0) in a Great Falls District game and No. 8 McNamara (3-0) visits No. 12 Annandale (1-1) at 8.
On Saturday, 13th-ranked Springbrook (3-0) plays host to 14th-ranked Magruder (2-1) at 2 and Gwynn Park (2-1) plays at DuVal (3-0) at 1:30.
Both Seneca Valley and Churchill rely on tough defense and field position and both consistently have been listed among the better teams in the metropolitan area. Each has won more than 90 games in the past 12 years.
The offense Shepherd didn't have a year ago has surfaced in the first three games, victories over Whitman, 17-6; Richard Montgomery, 23-0, and last week, a 26-7 triumph over defending Class AA state champion Gaithersburg.
Churchill's Jim Kemp has thrown three touchdown passes to Fred Sollock. Mark Mason and Reggie Shepherd have been the key runners. Seneca Valley averages more than 19 points per game. John Joppy and Ricky Davis have scored four touchdowns each and Ron Smith has three for the Screaming Eagles, whose rushing attack has enabled them to score 96 points in three victories.
T.C. Williams also has benefited from a successful ground offense as Lydell Scott has rushed for more than 300 yards and scored three times. The T.C. Williams' defense has not allowed a touchdown in two games. Madison also is a high-scoring team, totaling 59 points in two wins.
In a rare matchup between Virginia and Metro Conference teams, Annandale, coming off a 14-13 last-minute loss to W.T. Woodson, plays the visiting Mustangs. McNamara prevailed in its first big test last week, holding off H.D. Woodson, 13-7. McNamara has outscored its first three foes, 75-16.
In Prince George's County, Gwynn Park, under first-year coach Mike Cavallini, seeks to rebound from its 28-26 double-overtime loss to Central when it plays an improved DuVal team in an AB League game.