Since 1990, the Germantown High School Bears have lost their Thanksgiving football rivalry game with MLK High four times, including last year’s memorable rain-sleet-and-snow-laden defeat.
The Bears wouldn’t lose for a fifth time on a clear-skied Thursday as Aaron Boyd, William Parks, Kwame Miller and other seniors playing their last game at Benjamin L. Johnson Memorial Stadium led their side to a 43-0 dismantling of their rivals.
It was as lopsided a game as the score reflected, but that didn’t keep the stands from being packed with alumni, parents, students and fans till late in the fourth quarter when they started making their way home for holiday festivities. Except for the tailgaters in the parking lot outside the stadium, that is; they seemed content to keep their family festivities going on site for the time being.
If ESPN had covered the game, the clips would have included star cornerback Parks’s bone-crushing hit on MLK’s Akeece Jones, Boyd’s speedy 60-yard run that gave Germantown its final score with a shade less than six minutes left and, in role-reversal highlight-reel plays, Parks running for a touchdown on offense and Boyd snaring an interception on defense.
Among those on the sidelines was Germantown principal Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi, who couldn’t wait to get the rivalry trophy back from her MLK peer William C. Wade, and boxing legend Bernard Hopkins, who didn’t make a big production of lending support to students who walk the same hallways he roamed as a trouble-making teen.
“You come back to let them know you care, and you need to care about where you came from. Even if they just see you there, it makes a difference,” said Hopkins, class of 1981. “When they see you, they think ‘you could be anywhere, but you chose to come back to us.’ They never gave up on me at Germantown, so I need to give back.”
The two made plans for Hopkins – he posed for pictures with police officers and fans, including those with whom he chatted about boxing and, when asked, Donovan McNabb’s fall from football grace – to come over to the school as soon as December.
Mullen-Bavwidinsi valued Hopkins unique ability to offer up a success story that goes from jail to a soon-to-be Guinness Book of World Records entry as oldest human to ever win a professional sports title.
Ecstatic as she realized the Bears were running away with the game, and reveling in the positive energy from an excited crowd, she said the day was further evidence that efforts to restore pride in a school that was down on its luck were taking hold.
“When I came here two years ago, I knew right away we needed to restore the school spirit, the pride in Germantown High, because there wasn’t much of it left. You need that. Ask around about what it was like years ago; you’ll hear the stories,” she said, noting that pride opens up the door for improved test scores which is what she knows outsiders are waiting to see before buying into GHS’s ongoing revival. “It’s back. Just look around here today.”