In 1982, the average price of gasoline was $1.82, Ronald Reagan was president and the Washington-Lee football team defeated Yorktown.
In 1983, gas prices dropped a few cents, The Police’s "Every Breath You Take" reached the top of the music charts and Yorktown bounced back to beat W-L.
Nearly three decades later, things have changed. Gas is nearly $3 per gallon, Barack Obama is the nation’s first minority president and artists like Katy Perry, Kesha and Rhianna, who weren’t even alive in the early ‘80s, are the music industry’s most revered. However, one thing remained constant over the years: Yorktown beating W-L.
One week after losing to Yorktown in the regular season finale, extending W-L’s streak of futility against the Patriots to 28 years, W-L upset Yorktown 28-7 in the regional quarterfinals at Greenbrier Stadium. Running back Anthony Taylor scored four touchdowns and the Generals defense did not allow a point until the fourth quarter when the outcome was all but decided.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Generals soaked head coach Josh Shapiro with a celebratory Gatorade bath. When the victory was official, Shapiro raced over and lifted senior linebacker Moussa Diallo in the air. Senior lineman Tarik El-Allame dropped to the turf in blissful disbelief and W-L students emptied from the bleachers and rushed the field.
"We wanted to change history," said Diallo, a first-team all-district selection who finished with five tackles, "and we wanted it more than them."
One week after losing 14-0 to Yorktown, W-L entered the rematch of Arlington rivals with plans of pounding running back Taylor between the tackles. The National District Offensive Player of the Year carried the ball 42 times, breaking through Yorktown tacklers and nearly 30 years of history en route to a 255-yard, four-touchdown performance. As a team, the No. 7-seed Generals rushed 54 times for 320 yards against a No. 2-seed Patriots team that finished the regular season with a 9-1 record, four shutouts and a district title.
"We decided to try to run it a lot," Taylor said, "and just try to pound them in their mouth."
It worked. The Generals led 14-0 at halftime and Shapiro, in his fourth season with W-L, said they made the necessary adjustments to continue having success on the ground in the second half. He felt strongly about their chances of winning after Taylor’s third touchdown gave W-L a 21-0 lead with 4:49 remaining in the third quarter.
"I don’t want to get into too many chess matches with [Yorktown head coach Bruce] Hanson, because he’ll bury me," said Shapiro, complimenting the 26th-year Patriot leader. "It helps to have Anthony Taylor. When we made an adjustment, he makes me look good because he’ll make somebody miss. He puts a little wiggle in the run and he can go."
Quarterback Rigo Salguero carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards and completed 5 of 8 passes for 96 yards, including a 61-yarder to Seth Whitmore.
While the Generals offense produced points, it was the defense that set the tone. Yorktown drove to the W-L 4-yard line on the game’s opening possession, where it faced first-and-goal. After three run plays netted 1 yard, the Patriots went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3 but came up empty with an incomplete pass.
"They couldn’t get three yards," Diallo said. "They had to earn everything from that moment on. Nothing was given to them."
After a W-L muffed punt gave Yorktown possession at the Generals’ 14 early in the second quarter, defensive back Nate Young intercepted a Patriots pass in the end zone. From that point, Yorktown did not move the ball inside the W-L 20 until the Patriots scored on a 31-yard pass from Andy Rockelli to Nick Yore in the fourth quarter.
The Yorktown offense suffered a blow when starting quarterback Jordan Smith left the game in the first quarter with an apparent leg injury and did not return.
W-L will travel to face No. 6 Hayfield at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 for a semifinal matchup. The Hawks upset No. 3 McLean 34-13 on Friday. W-L defeated Hayfield 23-7 during a regular season meeting on Sept. 16.
Shapiro said the win over Yorktown should lead to more kids at W-L coming out for football in the future. Things could change for a W-L program making only its second postseason appearance since 1975, but no matter what happens, Friday’s historical victory will remain in the record books.
"Just looking over and seeing their bench the way we’re used to seeing our bench was incredible," Young said. "… They’ve got their 9-1 regular season and everything, but we got what matters and we’re still going."