For the first time since 2004, the Georgetown Prep football team will be playing as part of the Interstate Athletic Conference.
During the past decade, the team has experienced mixed success as both an independent program and a member of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
The return to the IAC has brought enthusiasm within the Little Hoyas program.
“We're very excited to be home again,” Prep coach Dan Paro said. “... It's great to be back in the conference — to recontinue the great relationships we've had with the teams in the conference for the past 60 years.”
Those relationships were interrupted following the 2004 season when Prep left the IAC conference. The conference's headmasters kicked Prep out of its football conference because it had significantly more boys than the other schools and was perceived to have loftier football aspirations than other league schools, according to then-acting IAC President Tom Farquhar, who was quoted in a Washington Post article.
The North Bethesda school won four straight conference titles beginning in 2000.
From 2005-09 the team played in the MIAA-A. And for the past two years, Prep played an independent schedule, going 4-6 last season.
Paro said his team will be prepared for title competition this year. He said that preparation for this season will be no different than preparing for any other season. The only difference is they'll be competing locally, and against friends, which Paro said is nice.
At the heart of Prep's transition back into the IAC is a position competition at quarterback between Aidan Hunt and Sean Strittmatter, both of whom have impressed so far.
“We had a great summer 7-on-7. We had a great participation. Really, a lot of great things occurred,” Paro said.
Whoever wins the starting quarterback job should get help from all-purpose athlete Dage Davis, who rushed for 1,434 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Veteran offensive tackle David Forney should be the anchor for a relatively inexperienced group this year.
The skill players give Paro reason for optimism.
“The fun part about this year's team is, I really believe we have true competition in camp,” Paro said. “You look at that lineup and you don't know who exactly is going to be where.”
“I really love the competition on the offensive side and the defensive side. ... I think the one thing we've got to focus on — find out pretty quickly and be wise about our decisions — [is] where do we place those on the offensive and defensive line.”
Paro believes if they can quickly develop, Prep will stand a chance at a successful season. He also said the team has to be committed to come together as one.
Davis agreed: “We need to buy into the football program more, because a lot of our football players play other sports.”
Davis expects to be playing both sides of the ball for the Little Hoyas. In fact, his first position is not running back — it's defensive back.
The last time Prep was in the IAC, Davis and his teammates were no older than second-grade students. But they share in Paro's excitement.
“I didn't even know it's been that long,” Davis said. “I know that we were there for a while. And now that we're back in, we have something to compete for. Last year and the year before, we weren't really playing for anything because we're not going to go to playoffs or anything like that. We were just playing for our record. And I think for some people it was like, 'Oh, this season doesn't really matter that much.' But now that we're actually playing for something, it gives people more motive.”