Yesterday, AllMetSports dropped its 2014 High School Football Preview, the Post’s annual rundown of storylines, teams, and players to watch during the upcoming high school football season. In honor of this year’s preview, and for some historical perspective as the Virginia public school season kicks off Thursday night we looked back a decade to the 2004 All-Met Football Preview. Here’s what we found:
The cover photo and story features then-Theodore Roosevelt Darryl Tilghman, the Roosevelt alum who coached the Rough Riders for 17 years during which he became a D.C. high school football staple. Tilghman passed away in May at age 48 of an apparent heart attack.
In addition to reminding of one of the city’s most influential football figures, the story shows how far football technology has come in the past decade.
“Just Keep Clicking” looks into a trend in area high schools towards football-specific computer programs, like the Landro play analyzer, which helped coaches sort game film by play or formation by “punching a few keys” or “a few more clicks” — a “high-tech revolution,” as the Post called it then. An unthinkable reference today, a less impressive one then, the story also uses the letters “VCR” all capitalized and in that order: the anachronism comes in the context of the eons of time one would need to compile a recruiting highlight reel on that antiquarian device.
Inside the 2004 preview is a preseason Post Top 20 not so different than this year’s. Two teams in the preseason top five a decade ago — Centreville and DeMatha — are in the top five this year. DeMatha topped the preseason poll in 2004, while Centreville is the preseason No. 1 this year. Four teams in this year’s top 10 — No. 1 Centreville, No. 3 Northwest, No. 4 DeMatha, and No. 5 Westfield — were also ranked in the top 10 then, and overall nine of those preseason top 20 teams from 2004 find themselves there again a decade later. Strangely enough, No. 18 Gwynn Park was ranked 18th in 2004, too.
Also interesting are the “Forty to Follow,” the alliterative predecessor to Preseason All-Met. That list is peppered with names as familiar to D.C.-area football fans as to NFL devotees. There’s Westfield running back Evan Royster, now of the Washington Redskins, who was mentioned in yesterday’s Redskins mailbag. There’s Suitland linebacker Navorro Bowman, now of the 49ers, who’s since emerged as one of the top linebackers in the league. Also mentioned in the course of the preview are former Friendly standout Joe Haden, who starred at Florida and now for the Browns, and former Stafford QB Torrey Smith, the now-familiar Ravens wide receiver.
There are memorable stories without NFL endings in the “Forty to Follow,” too. One quarterback to watch was Eleanor Roosevelt’s Derrick Williams, one of the nation’s top high school prospects in 2005. He went on to play four years at Penn State under Joe Paterno, becoming Paterno’s first player ever to score on a catch, run, and kick return in the same game in 2008, a season in which he captained the Nittany Lions and was named first team All-Big Ten. He was drafted by the Lions in the third round in 2009, and remained with that organization until 2011, when he departed for the Steelers. He was released in 2012, and has since left the NFL. Also mentioned is Antonio Logan-El, the former Forestville standout and one of the most highly coveted recruits in the country by his final year in 2006. He opted for Penn State over Maryland in a controversial recruiting ceremony, and was labeled “the biggest bust in Penn State recruiting history” recently by Bleacher Report.
If this year’s ranked teams or preseason players to watch are looking for a glimpse into their 2014 future in the Post’s predictive skills, results were mixed a decade ago: only two preseason top five teams — DeMatha and Good Counsel — ended there. Two preseason top five teams, Eleanor Roosevelt and Centreville, were unranked by year’s end. Both schools, Centreville at No. 1 and Roosevelt at No. 17, carry big expectations this year, too. Fifteen of the 26 players on the 2004 All-Met First Team including the 2004 players of the year, were chosen to the Forty to Follow that season.
Of the Northern Virginia teams, only Manassas Park won a state championship in 2004. Suitland (4A), Northwest (3A), and Potomac (2A) won Maryland state titles. DeMatha won the WCAC title over Good Counsel. Whatever happens this year, AllMetSports will have it covered — online, on your phone, on Twitter, all the time. No VCR necessary.
Cover story: Many QBs on top teams are learning on the fly