New quarterback lifts T.C.
At the time of season when teams are more likely to lose players to injuries than welcome them back from medical issues, T.C. Williams stands out as a marked exception.
On Saturday, T.C. senior quarterback Joe Hargrove made his regular season debut. He had injured his non-throwing hand in the Titans’ second scrimmage, against Centreville, when he took a helmet to the wrist.
In a 38-37 home win over West Potomac, left-hander Hargrove came off the bench to set a school record for passing yards in a game with 297 and tied the school record for touchdown passes with four.
Hargrove’s emergence might make T.C. a greater threat to reach the postseason for the first time since 1990. As it is, the Titans are 4-4 with games remaining against South County (6-2) and Lee (5-3).
In the Virginia High School League power ratings, T.C. is 11th out of 15 Division 6 schools in the Northern Region. The top eight, including district champions, will qualify for the postseason. Wins over South County (fourth in the region in Division 6) and Lee (second in Division 5) would provide quite a boost in the Titans’ power ranking.
T.C. has not finished .500 or better since 1996. Its losses have been to teams with a combined 24-8 record — Robinson (by 13), Lake Braddock (by nine), West Springfield (by one) and W.T. Woodson (by 14).
The Titans hope that a healthy Hargrove can be the difference between a respectable loss to a good team and a much-needed win over one.
“It would have been tough for us to win that game on Saturday without" Hargrove, T.C. coach Dennis Randolph said. “We obviously have a much better chance with Joe back there because he does open the field up and makes you cover the whole field.
“People’s chins drop when they watch him play. I had a coach come up to me after the game and say, ‘God, that kid is good. Just imagine if he’d been here the whole season.’”
Randolph’s glum response: “Yeah, just imagine.”
Hargrove, last season the junior varsity quarterback and a varsity backup, was with the Titans for their 80-some passing league games during the summer and various passing tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region.
“He was on the right track and getting confidence and doing all the things that he was supposed to do to get ready,” Randolph said. “When Joe got hurt, we went from a passing team to more of a run-oriented team. When he got in there [Saturday], we went back to where we were eight weeks ago. We have to rethink our offense a little bit.”
Hargrove completed 17 of 35 passes against West Potomac. The 297 passing yards broke the school record (274) set by Efi Eyo in 1999 against Robinson. Two of Hargrove’s touchdowns went to junior Bennie Jenkins and the others went to junior Tyrell Sitton and senior Rob Carter.
Sophomore Manuel Benites kicked a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to provide the winning points.
T.C.’s victory and Hargrove’s school record overshadowed eye-popping statistics from two West Potomac players. Senior Colin Mathewson threw for 370 yards and five touchdowns, four of which went to junior Daryl Copeland, who totaled 245 receiving yards on seven catches.
One last thing: The best-known Titan might be division I prospect Jay Whitmire, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound junior lineman. But Randolph said college coaches scouting Whitmire now are inquiring about junior outside linebacker Damien Benton, who leads the team in tackles with 106, 73 of them solo stops.
The 5-11, 185-pound Benton also has returned two interceptions for touchdowns, blocked six passes, caused three hurries and three fumbles and notched two sacks.
“Every coach we play says [No.] 37 sticks out like a sore thumb on film,” Randolph said.
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