T.C. Williams has faced West Potomac in football every year since the latter opened in 1985. The schools, located five miles apart, have become rivals, and their annual matchups have become a measuring stick for each team to chart its growth within a season or over a decade. For both of these teams, any stretch of success must include a few wins against the other.
Friday night’s installment in the long-running series featured aspects both foreign and familiar. Played for the first time at the St. James, a massive indoor sports performance facility in Springfield, the game turned chippy right away. But the Titans overcame the night’s emotions, leading the entire way and holding off a late surge to secure a 28-26 win, their fourth in the teams’ past five matchups.
At 7-2, the Titans are off to their best start since 1990 and have a shot at their first conference title since that same year.
“It’s big for us,” senior quarterback Robert Longerbeam said. “We just wanted to prove that we could change the culture here. I think we’re doing that right now.”
If a shiny record isn’t enough to make this season special for T.C. Williams, the team’s temporary home field might. With their football field undergoing renovations, the Titans have been playing home games at a sparkling facility a few miles away. The team’s debut last month was the first indoor high school football game in Virginia history.
On Friday night, the student sections packed opposite corners of the cavernous field house. Both groups perked up when the teams came face-to-face after introductions, talking the talk that comes with the rivalry.
“Their kids and our kids know each other, and it’s always been close,” Titans Coach Jimmy Longerbeam said. “We just tell our kids to keep their composure and don’t let T.C. beat T.C.”
Senior defensive back Bernard Lee Jr. set an early tone, picking off the Wolverines’ first pass and returning it 65 yards for a touchdown.
“It was very important for us to start strong,” Lee said. “Senior night, a lot of emotions — we had to come out like it was war.”
The Titans looked comfortable as they led by two touchdowns for much of the evening, but West Potomac (3-5) put some pressure on late. The Wolverines cut their deficit to two with six minutes remaining and got the ball back with a chance to win. But the T.C. Williams defense made stops when it mattered, and the Titans left their home away from home with another win.
“Our kids showed toughness at the end,” Jimmy Longerbeam said. “The old T.C. would have found a way to lose this game.”