T.C. Williams went 3-2 during the round-robin opening-day event to earn a modest No. 3 seed in one of four divisions for the double-elimination second-day tournament. However, the Titans were unstoppable with a trophy at stake, going 4-0 and knocking off two-time defending champion Clairton for the title.
"This is very exciting for our kids, to come up here for the first time and go home with a trophy,'' T.C. Williams coach Dennis Randolph said. "I'm sure they'll remember this for a long time.''
It's a good bet the Titans had the same effect on the Pittsburgh area. And for those motion picture buffs, yes, T.C. Williams is the same school featured in the 2000 movie "Remember the Titans.'' It's a story about the original Titans from 1971 when Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, was appointed to coach a team in a school district that just became interracial.
"Of course, the movie is always brought up, and everybody wants to talk about it,'' Randolph said. "Coach Wannstedt, actually, told us he had a connection to Coach Boone. It seems the coach wanted some tickets to a Miami Dolphins' game when Coach Wannstedt was there.''
Wannstedt asked Boone, known for his inspirational speeches, to talk to the team. After he spoke, tailback Ricky Williams wanted to ask a question, and Coach Boone asked him to stand up so everyone could hear him.
"That was an interesting story,'' Randolph said. "When Coach Wannstedt told our kids that, it made an impression. They all know who Ricky Williams is. The original Titans, that was a long time ago, but if it means a little more publicity for these kids, I'm all for it. And they don't mind. At least, I don't think so, but I'll talk about it to anyone who wants to listen.''
Randolph, entering his third season at T.C. Williams, certainly does whatever he can to enhance things for the Titans football team. He said they try to take an overnight trip each year before school starts and stayed two nights at Pitt.
"Pitt comes in to recruit our area, and we've got a couple kids they're looking at,'' Randolph said. "So, when they were in contact with us, they said that they had a 7-on-7 tournament and asked if we wanted to attend. I was just thrilled to be invited. Alexandria has inner-city kids, and they don't get out much.
"So, we try to take an overnight trip every year. We've gone to Penn State before, but I saw this and decided to check it out. And we've been impressed with everything about Pitt. We played against a team from Ohio in the indoor facility (Friday) night, and we were taken on a tour of everything.
"We've been given carte blanche to everything about Pitt, and they've treated us really great,'' Randolph said. "Coach Wannstedt came over and talked to our kids, so it's really awesome. Coach Wannstedt was a player here when I first started coaching, and I had a connection to Joe Madden, a defensive coach back then at Pitt. So, I came up to visit Pitt, but it's very different now.''
Randolph said one of their top-recruited players is 6-foot-6, 290-pound two-way lineman Jay Whitmire. Already a two-year starter, the powerful Whitmire will be a junior this fall. He was a short-yardage target during the camp as a tight end.
Split end Aziz Coker, tailback Cortez Taylor and flanker Rasheed Conteh are three other high-profile players. Randolph said the trio combined to form three-fourths of the Titans' 4 x 100 relay team that finished 13th at the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
"Taylor, he has 4.4 speed, 10.87 in the 100,'' Randolph said. "The other two run about 11.1, but they're all real fast. And Taylor, he's kind of like our Slash player, sometimes lining up at quarterback to run in certain formations.''
The other top player is left-handed quarterback Joe Hargrove, who is about 6-4, 200 pounds and has a strong arm. He moves well and can throw the ball a long way when given some time.
"We have a good group of kids, and we're going to try to come back every year, because we love it here,'' Randolph said. "Everything is first-class here. Coach Wannstedt and his staff, everybody's been great. They've really taken care of us. From Coach Wannstedt on down throughout the staff. Joyce (Salsbury), she made the arrangements and was involved from the beginning.
"Chris (LaSala), the assistant coaches, everybody's been great. We have a lot of kids, and I pay for this out of my pocket. So, it ends up being pretty expensive with two overnight stays, but it's well worth it. The kids benefit from it, and I'm just happy to be back here. It's been 25 years, and boy has this area changed since then. But there was a lot I remembered.''
And these Titans will be remembered as well.
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