It didn't matter which unit was on the field for Bishop Ireton yesterday -- a player named Rodriguez was almost always at the bottom of the pile when the referee blew his whistle.
David Rodriguez, the Cardinals' senior quarterback, scored the only points that mattered in both teams' season opener, and his younger brother, Andrew, a freshman safety, had two interceptions and a fumble recovery as Ireton earned a historic 23-0 victory over Bishop O'Connell in a nonconference game in Alexandria.
The Cardinals had beaten the Knights just once before yesterday, in 1972, Ireton Athletic Director Mark Heiser said. That fact was not lost on the players, who posed for a team picture in front of the scoreboard afterward, or the student body, which joined their heroes for a wild celebration at midfield.
Ireton was 2-7 last season; O'Connell made the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs.
"I knew if the kids played at the level I knew they could, that we'd have a chance to pull this off," third-year Ireton coach Brian Inman said. "This is something we are going to build on. It's a momentum builder for the whole school, not just the football team. It starts the school year and the football season off right."
David Rodriguez quickly showed why he earned the starting quarterback position last week. He scored on a keeper from seven yards halfway through the first quarter to give the Cardinals a 6-0 edge. Rodriguez was just as effective in the air, completing 8 of 14 passes for 120 yards.
One of his favorite targets was senior fullback Patrick Shannon, who hauled in three receptions for 33 yards and rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Senior running back Charlie West also scored for the Cardinals, as did senior place kicker Brian McSween, who booted a 27-yard field goal. McSween is David and Andrew Rodriguez's cousin.
"This is huge," David Rodriguez said. "We've been working toward this all summer. That was our goal, to win this game and get the season started on the right foot."
In the teams' previous four meetings, Ireton gave up an average of 32 points. But not yesterday, thanks to Andrew Rodriguez, West, defensive end Buddy Buckner, linebackers Frank Curry and Shannon, and others, who yielded only 50 rushing yards and 41 passing.
"This day belongs to the seniors," Andrew Rodriguez said. "They've been here working hard for four years, and now they've finally got a win [against O'Connell]. This program is improving, definitely headed in the right direction."
O'Connell Coach Steve Trimble said his team was done in by mistakes -- the Knights were called for defensive encroachment four times and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties -- and inexperience.
"I knew it was going to be hard for us to come here and win," Trimble said. "This was the first varsity game for a lot of our kids. They were ready for us."
Crossland Ends Skid
Junior running back Matt Clark rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown as Crossland defeated host DuVal, 13-8, snapping a 19-game losing streak, which was the second-longest active streak in the area.
Quarterback Andre Taylor added a touchdown run and linebacker Lamar Collier had eight tackles and a sack and forced a fumble as the Cavaliers won their season opener in a Prince George's 3A/2A league game.
"They dumped me with the bucket" of water afterward, second-year coach Keith Howard said. "I knew something was up because one of the coaches was hugging me and he hugged me way too long."
-- Josh Barr