It promises to be a thrilling blend of the old and the new when two high school football teams, representing Theodore Roosevelt in Northwest and H.D. Woodson in Northeast, battle for the DCIAA title in the Annual Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast.
Kickoff remains slated for 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 25.
The Warriors (H.D. Woodson), who upset defending champion Dunbar in last Saturday’s semifinals, should not be considered the underdog as they’ve been a perennial contender over the past two decades.
As for this year’s top-seeded Rough Riders (Roosevelt), once a league power in the old Inter-High School Association, they haven’t appeared in the Turkey Bowl since 1996 with their last league title coming even earlier in 1979.
H.D. Woodson (6-4, 4-2 in the DCIAA), struggled at times during the season but came on strong down the stretch, upsetting the No. 2 seed and last year’s champion, Dunbar, 20-18, on a fourth quarter TD.
The Rough Riders (10-1, 6-0 in the DCIAA) dropped an opening season matchup to undefeated Archbishop John Carroll but then reeled off 10 straight victories including last week’s convincing 35-7 win over fourth-seeded Woodrow Wilson.
For Rough Rider head coach Chris Harden, the team’s success comes as no surprise.
“We came into the season with some goals,” he said. “First, we wanted to raise the team’s GPA. We were able to do that. Eighty-five percent of the team has a 3.0 or higher.”
“Then we wanted the regular-season title and get out of the semifinal round after having lost that game two years in a row. Next is the Turkey Bowl and if we are successful, we look to the State championship (DCSAA),” he said.
The game will feature the vaunted Rough Riders defense, led by Juan Pratt, a dual threat with more than seven sacks on the season, and a reliable receiver and running back on the offense.
Freshman quarterback Khalil Wilkins, a 6-3 lefty, has the makings of a future star with a powerful arm and the uncanny ability to find receivers.
The Warriors will test the Roosevelt defense on the potent rushing attack of the duo of DeAndre Purvis and Josiah Young.
The winner will advance to the DCSAA championship with the date and location to be announced.