For D.C. football players, helpless frustration has dragged on as neighboring regions begin their seasons. Efforts to change a mayoral order that prohibited high school athletics until mid-March have been futile. On Monday, the D.C. State Board of Education wrote a letter to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) advocating for a change. But it’s unclear whether that will have any effect.
In the meantime, restless players have had to get their football fix by other means. This past weekend, a group of players and coaches from the D.C. area traveled to Texas to play in a seven-on-seven tournament. Without football available at home, they hopped on a plane to Houston to find competition.
“The idea was to help kids that just aren’t doing anything here,” Theodore Roosevelt Coach Chris Harden said. “How can we get those kids some exposure?”
The trip was led by Bobby Enoch, Theodore Roosevelt’s offensive coordinator and founder of the Lab Skills Academy, a private training company. He had long wanted to get some of his players involved in a spring seven-on-seven passing league, and he viewed this year as the right opportunity to organize an effort. In December, he started creating a group of what would be 25 local players, and he organized the logistics of how to get down to Houston for an event put on by Pylon Football.
“With guys not having a season, it was the perfect opportunity to actually bring this to fruition,” Enoch said. “It was hard dealing with the uncertainty of traveling and dealing with different families and kids. But most of these kids haven’t played football in a year. It was all about putting them on a bigger stage for more exposure.”
They flew to Texas on Friday and returned Monday afternoon. For some players, it was their first time on an airplane. Despite some rust, the group finished in third place, sparking recruiting interest.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” Enoch said. “Some of these schools want to see our whole roster.”
Seven of the 25 players were from Roosevelt. They were joined by other students from D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association schools such as Dunbar and H.D. Woodson, as well as area private schools.
“I was traveling somewhere I had never been, so I was super excited,” Roosevelt junior wide receiver Jahmal Edwards said. “And everyone knows it’s a football state, so there was good competition. I hadn’t played football in a long time, so my [recruitment] really wasn’t going anywhere.”
A seven-on-seven setup is designed to focus on skill players such as Edwards, highlighting their athletic ability without pads or tackling. Edwards said he missed the physicality of the high school game but was happy to adapt to seven-on-seven as an alternative.
“We were all proud to be there for all of our peers that weren’t able to come, weren’t able to do anything,” Edwards said. “We all just wanted to represent the city in a positive way.”
Edwards said he is still holding out hope that Roosevelt will get to have some kind of season this school year. But it is difficult to return from a weekend football tournament and arrive back in a place where the sport remains stagnant.
“It’s been a frustrating time,” Harden said. “A lot of kids are depressed from not being able to do what they’ve been doing since they started to walk. They’re doing the virtual learning and not being rewarded for it with football. The sports is usually the reward. And that’s been taken away.”
Westfield tight end Harrison Saint Germain committed to Virginia Tech last month. The junior was recently classified as a three-star prospect by Rivals.
Chantilly defensive end Aiden Gobaira committed to Notre Dame last month. The three-star junior chose the Fighting Irish from a list of offers that included Penn State, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Fairfax Christian School won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III invitational championship last week, defeating Word of Life Christian, 73-69. Senior Donovahn Keyes led the Cardinals with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. They finished the season 14-1.