While police and District school officials investigated the theft of Spingarn's football equipment over the weekend, the team's players were preparing to play their game against Ballou last night with borrowed equipment.

The D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association arranged for Spingarn to use shoulder pads and helmets from several junior high school teams that did not compete this season, Spingarn Athletic Director Bruce Williams said.

The timing of the theft could not have been worse for the Green Wave (1-5, 1-1), which still has a shot of making the playoffs if it can defeat defending DCIAA East Division champion and Turkey Bowl runner-up Ballou (4-5, 2-0).

Spingarn Coach John Matthews arrived Saturday at 8:30 a.m. to discover that 25 shoulder pads, helmets and game-day jerseys had been stolen from lockers at the stadium that sits across the street from the Northeast school. Thieves cut a hole in the fence and locks on the locker room door, Williams said.

As part of the investigation, officers yesterday planned to view footage from a video camera mounted at nearby Charles Young Elementary School that overlooks the stadium, Williams said.

"We're just trying to get the kids in a position to play," he said. "It's important because it's the first time in a long time they have a chance to even make the playoffs."

-- Judith Evans