By Alex Hampl
The T.C. Williams football team enters this season with high hopes. The Titans are coming back from a 5-5 season, and came within one game of making the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. For this reason, optimism is common among coaches and players. However, the team still faces several key questions. Football coach Dennis Randolph was unresponsive to numerous attempts to contact him, but here are the five questions alexandrianews.org would have asked and will be watching for in the upcoming season.
Will Jay Whitmire’s ankle affect his play?
Whitmire, a senior, sprained his ankle early in the first quarter of the team’s final scrimmage against Centreville. The ankle was reportedly diagnosed as a sprain and had significant swelling. Players on the team have said that he should return within the next couple of weeks, possbily as early as the team’s second home game against Mount Vernon. Whitmire, a returning first team Washington Post All-Met selection, is a key member of both the offensive and defensive lines. The 6′ 7” tackle has received several scholarship offers from Division I programs, including Notre Dame, Penn State, and the University of Virginia. If Whitmire continues to play on both sides of the ball, his ankle and explosiveness will be tested.
Who will quarterback the team?
Presumptive starter senior Doug Murphy returns with some varsity experience. However, he missed much of the team’s summer passing leagues due to various injuries and is being pushed hard by sophomore Alec Grosser. Murphy started in the team’s scrimmage against Centreville, when both quarterbacks were healthy. He played well, although his wide receivers dropped several passes, which resulted in stalled drives. Grosser played the second half, and looked sharp, leading the Titans on a 90-yard scoring drive in his second series. He completed several passes on the drive including a deep touchdown. Randolph has not yet made a formal announcement on the quarterback situation.
How will the Damien Benton situation be resolved?
Benton was a Digitial Sports first team All-District selection last year at linebacker. A senior, Benton plays a critical linebacker/safety hybrid position and is a key member of the Titan defense. However, he has not yet joined the team. Players say that a lack of communication between Benton and the coaches is the reason behind his prolonged absence. The improved Titan defense, in its second year under coordinator Mike Gamble, still returns several starters including Whitmire, end Joe Massaquoi, tackle Eric Berger, tackle Tre Sanders, and linebackers Tevin Isley and Israel Richardson. Massaquoi has received a Division I scholarship offer from East Carolina University. If Benton reports to the team, the Titans would return almost all key members of a defense that held opponents to 19 points per game last season.
Who will run the ball?
Three key seniors from last year’s squad graduated: first team All-District pick Cortez Taylor, Rob Carter, and Charles Garner. Without those three backs, the Titans return almost no one with any varsity experience in the backfield. A starter has yet to be named from a pool of several players.
Who else is there to watch?
Senior Will Rossi was a second-team All-District selection last year at wide receiver. Rossi also returns punts and kickoffs. In the team’s scrimmage, he was also playing cornerback due to an injury. Rossi made several defenders miss on a 60 yard touchdown completion from Alec Grosser. Senior wide receiver Tyrell Sitton also got playing time last year.
T.C. opens its season on Thursday, September 2, hosting Robinson. The second game of the season is against Mount Vernon, also at home on September 11.