If you only recently started paying attention to high school football in Northern Virginia, you might write off the Edison Eagles as a sub-.500 team that struggles to contend for the last playoff berth in the region each year. But dig a little deeper, back about a decade, and you’ll find a team that was one of the area’s powers. Under the auspices of Vaughn Lewis — who guided the team to a state championship in 1986, left to coach elsewhere and then came back to the school at the turn of the century — the Eagles made the playoffs nine times in a 10-year stretch ending in 2009.
Take that into consideration, and it’s no surprise that key players from those powerful rosters carried the Eagles to a 34-6 romp Saturday afternoon over similarly aged players from T.C. Williams in a full-contact, helmets-and-pads game organized by Alumni Football USA. A portion of the $10 admission fee for spectators and $100 entry fee from players went to the athletic departments of the schools.
With both sets of bleachers about half filled with classmates, spouses and children of the players whose ages ranged from 19-35, the Eagles took the opening kickoff and drove downfield, with Marshall Wharam hitting P.J. Williams on a fluttering 20-yard pass for the game’s opening touchdown. On the first play of the ensuing Titans drive, an Edison defensive back recovered a fumble and brought it back all the way inside the T.C. Williams 5-yard-line. Devan Clark, a running back from the class of 2006, scored on the next play, and the rout was on.
Legendary T.C. Williams coach Herman Boone, who was portrayed by Denzel Washington in “Remember the Titans,” was in attendance as a spectator and called the home team’s quality of play “lousy” after they fell behind, 14-0.
But Edison looked reasonably organized, thanks to weekend practices over the last two months put together by captain Darren Davis, 26, of the class of 2004. Attendance was spotty at first, as former players begged off because of work and family commitments. But word spread, the Lewis family was recruited to coach (Vaughn Lewis was aided by his son Chad, who is the varsity football coach at Stafford High School) and more players started to show up for practice as game day neared.
“When I first heard about this game, I knew that I had to get out there,” said Davis, who accepted the winner’s trophy on behalf of the Eagles. “For the love of the game, being able to suit up again and re-live the high school moment with my teammates. It was great to get out there for the first practice and smell the football in the air.”
Edison showed a stout defense, picking off a pass and limiting the Titans offense to running plays by its quarterback. The Eagles carried a 26-0 advantage into halftime thanks to a six-yard scamper by Mark Beach and a nice 16-yard strike from 2006 quarterback Shawn Lloyd to Tyrone Mackall, a receiver from the 2011 team.
Lloyd guided the Eagles to a berth in the 2006 state championship game, where they lost to perennial power Phoebus, 34-25. Unlike most players, who last scored touchdowns in rec-league flag football games, Lloyd’s most recent touchdown pass came in his final collegiate game at Shenandoah University last November, when he hit Qiydaar Murphy for six yards on the final play of a 42-23 loss to Washington and Lee. Edison’s other quarterback, Wharam, celebrated his recovery from testicular cancer by getting back on the field. His game was cut short when he suffered a knee injury late in the first half.
“They called up and said ‘Hey, Edison’s playing this all-star game, do you want to coach?’ But we really didn’t do a lot of coaching,” Vaughn Lewis said. “We’re just running the same offense we did when they were playing seven or eight years ago.”
After a T.C. Williams touchdown pass to Anthony Suggs made it 28-6 midway through the third quarter, Roy Coles (2004) who earned all-state honors in the 200 and 400-meters in track, provided the longest touchdown of the game, when he burst away from early contact and ran untouched for a 60-yard score.
After the touchdown, Kiri Grant, a regional manager for Goodwill Industries who has two children, ran along the sideline yelling something you might not hear on the sidelines at a high school game: “You better be buyin’ me a beer, I opened that hole wide open!”
As a powerful hit by the Edison defense ended the game, it looked as if the “alumni” Eagles might handily beat the current Eagles, who have struggled to get plays in on time, let alone find a groove since Lewis retired three seasons ago.
One former Eagle was asked what it would take to unearth the magic of a decade ago.
“When I was in high school, we were on a nice streak of winning districts and making the first or second round of the playoffs,” Williams said. “They’ve got to come together more. Back in the day, even when we didn’t have camp, we went bowling together as a team, we went fishing together as a team, we did everything as a team. You don’t see that at a lot of places nowadays. You couldn’t tell we were out there fighting last week. But we’re all family, came together and put our past behind us.”