Dont tell T.C. Williams head coach Dennis Randolph or his seniors that the Titans havent seen the playoffs in nearly two decades theyre optimists.
We want to get over the hump. This hump weve had for the last 20 years, Randolph said after his players finished up their last set of double-session practices for the year on Friday. From 1965 to 1988 they were one of the top teams in the region They were the team to beat. They were really tough.
Autumn of 2010 is when the Titans return to the glory days of their past, the head coach said. With a core group of veteran players returning to take the field at Parker-Grey Stadium and a singular focus on playing after the final regular season game against Lee High School, things are looking good, Randolph said.
When other teams line up against us, they know theyre going to have to play, he said.
This isnt the first time Randolphs been upbeat about the impending campaign. On the heels of a 3-7 season in 2008, the head coach predicted the Titans werent far off from a 6-3 or 7-3 record the following year.
Though a winning record didnt pan out the Titans went 5-5 in 2009 just splitting even looks good to a team so hungry for success.
Not one current player was even alive the last time a Titans team made it beyond the regular season. But doesnt matter to them.
Randolphs players exude a quiet confidence in their own abilities. Some have been with him since he became T.C.’s football chief, which he hopes will be a difference-maker. Its a mental thing, players agree in the high school cafeteria after wolfing down lunch, that will secure their success. Its about getting down to business and staying focused.
Everybody needs to just stay on the same page, said 17-year-old safety Israel Richardson. If everybody stays on the same page then things look good. We could win state. But we got to stay on the same page and stay focused.
Sitting beside Richardson, wide receiver Tyrell Sitton, 18, nods. The way he says it, winning seems pretty simple.
If everybody gives 100 percent and there arent too many injuries we should do well, Sitton said. If everybody stepped it up, wed be good.
Injuries are a concern for Randolph heading into the September 2 season opener against perpetually powerful Robinson Secondary School. About nine players sat out of Saturdays scrimmages with minor aches and pains. Its a side effect of a tough practice schedule, he said.
We just have to be ready to open up in two weeks, thats my big concern, Randolph said. [Injury] is every coaches nightmare, at every level.
Star senior offensive lineman Jay Whitmire said injuries are a part of the game. Keeping them to a minimum is the difference between winning and losing, he said. And when your goal is making the playoffs, injuries arent acceptable.
One advantage over injuries the Titans have this year is depth, according to Whitmire. T.C. Williams has a group of flexible second-string players ready to step into almost any position, he said.
Beyond staying healthy, it really comes down to concentrating on doing your job for the team, Richardson said.
Some people just do what they want to do, but 95 percent of the team is on the same page, he said. People lose focus. We just got to stay humble.