EASTERN EARNS RESPECT: Regardless of who won this year's Interhigh League title game, the winner was going to be taking home a football trophy for the first time in many years.

The winner was Eastern, which defeated West Division champion Wilson, 12-6, for its first league football title in 12 years.

The Tigers (8-2-1) last won a league title in 1952.

Eastern was awarded the East Division crown and the right to play in the annual Thanksgiving morning classic after H.D. Woodson had to forfeit 10 games because of an ineligible player.

"We hadn't won in a while and we were hungry," said Eastern's Broadus Smith, who scored on a first-half fumble recovery. "We know we lost to Woodson {21-0}, but the way we played today, no team could have beat us."

Eastern's highly regarded marching band turned down the opportunity to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York to play at the title game.

TOP TEAMS FALL: Springbrook, T.C. Williams and Oxon Hill, the top three teams, respectively, in last week's Washington Post rankings, all were upset in playoff games Saturday.

The biggest shocker was then-No. 1 Springbrook's uncharacteristic poor play in a 20-7 loss to Montgomery County rival Wootton. The unbeaten Patriots scored on a 99-yard kickoff return by Marlon Evans and later forced six turnovers.

T.C. Williams, which had no problem handling a high-scoring Annandale team, 28-14, in an earlier meeting this season, did little offensively in losing to Annandale in the Virginia AAA Division 6 Northern Region final, 27-6. The Titans missed the services of defensive end-tailback Ricky Ross (suffered pinched nerve in shoulder on the third play of the game) and leading rusher and best defensive back Rashawn Jackson (sat out with bronchitis).

Oxon Hill, the area's top defensive team with seven shutouts, couldn't contain Randallstown running back Larry Washington (203 yards) and was eliminated, 21-7, in a Maryland 4A semifinal.

Other top 20 casualties included Northern, a 10-7 loser to SMAC rival McDonough in a Maryland 3A semifinal. Fauquier, a 13-6 overtime winner in the regular season over Commonwealth District foe Gar-Field, made too many mistakes and was beaten by the Indians, 14-7, in their AAA regional playoff game. Hayfield managed only 96 total yards and was soundly beaten by West Potomac, 21-0, in a AAA regional final.

The Wolverines are the hottest team in the area right now, having won 10 consecutive games by a combined 387-31.

HORNETS HUMMIN': After a nonleague 13-10 loss to Episcopal of the IAC on the fourth week of the season, Damascus knew it would have to win the rest of its games to gain enough state points to return to the Maryland Class 2A playoffs. Now the Swarmin' Hornets are one game from a state championship.

The Hornets won their final six games of the regular season and barely earned the eighth and final playoff berth. They upset top-seeded Fort Hill, 10-9, in the first round and Friday night, handled J.M. Bennett, 16-7, in the semifinals. Damascus, which lost to Allegany in the final last year, 20-14, has won 22 of its last 26 games under Coach Al Thomas.

LOOKING AHEAD: Annandale (11-1) hosts Virginia's all-time most successful team, Hampton, on Saturday. The Crabbers have an all-time record of 554-210-45 including 11-1 this season. They have won 12 state championships, including seven since 1975 and three of the last five. They have advanced to the state final five straight years and have not had a losing season since 1965.

Other games next weekend include Wootton, 12-0 and looking for its first state title, trying to do what Seneca Valley and Oxon Hill could not -- stop running back Washington of Randallstown (12-0). The senior has rushed for 522 yards and seven touchdowns in the two playoff games.