After the first three weeks of the high school football season, Theodore Roosevelt Coach Jim Tillerson was slightly embarrassed by the play of his team. The Rough Riders had been beaten, 51-6, by H.D. Woodson; 18-12, by Eastern, and 55-18, by DeMatha.
But Tillerson, one of the most successful coaches in the metropolitan area, didn't give up on his inexperienced charges. He made a few changes on offense and defense, and suddenly the Rough Riders are in position to challenge for the Interhigh League West Division title.
Roosevelt (3-5 overall, 2-1 in the division) plays at Cardozo (4-4, 2-1) at 2 p.m. today in a game that could produce the division winner.
In another key West Division test, Coolidge (2-4, 2-1) will be at Wilson (3-5, 1-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
No. 12 H.D. Woodson (6-1, 4-0) can gain at least a tie for the East Division crown by beating visiting Spingarn (0-5, 0-5) at 2 today.
Woodson had no problem with either Roosevelt or Cardozo, a 46-0 victim, but both teams have shown marked improvement since those losses.
Cardozo, getting consistently fine efforts from quarterback Allen Johnson (11 touchdown passes) and linebacker Maurice Williams, has beaten Dunbar and McKinley in successive weeks. Roosevelt has a much improved passing attack with quarterback Greg Clark (eight touchdowns) and end Kevin Dial.
In Virginia AAA, Annandale, West Potomac and Marshall can wrap up district championships with victories tonight at 8.
Top-ranked T.C. Williams (8-0, 4-0) will seek its sixth straight Northern District title when it welcomes Oakton (3-5, 1-3) for a 2:30 Saturday game.
The hot team right now is West Potomac (6-2, 3-0), winner of four consecutive shutouts since being thrashed by Robinson, 34-0, five weeks ago. The Wolverines can win the Gunston District by beating visiting Lee (3-6, 1-2).
Annandale (6-2, 4-0) can earn its first playoff berth in six years by beating visiting Chantilly (4-4, 3-1).
Second-ranked Marshall (8-0, 6-0), already assured of top seeding in the Northern Region Division V playoffs, plays Madison (6-2, 4-1) for the Great Falls District title.
No. 9 Lackey (9-0, 8-0) will go for its 24th consecutive triumph and the SMAC championship tonight, 7:30, when it faces nemesis Thomas Stone (8-1, 6-1) at White Plains.
No. 4 Carroll (8-1, 4-0) can hold on to the Metro Conference lead alone by beating 17th-ranked McNamara (6-2-1, 2-1-1) at 2:20 Saturday. No. 10 Annapolis (8-1, 3-1) has a home date with Severna Park (8-1, 3-1) for first place in the Anne Arundel AA league at 7 tonight.