Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Colonial Beach Video

Behind the Scenes at Colonial Beach

The Post's B.J. Koubaroulis takes you behind the scenes at Colonial Beach, a 24-player football program that has become a rallying point for a small rural community of less than 3,300 located off the banks of the Potomac near Fredericksburg.

Video by B.J. Koubaroulis

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Fairfax, Two Sports In Jeopardy

In Fairfax, Two Sports In Jeopardy
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, November 20, 2008; E01

Fairfax County high school gymnastics and indoor track could be eliminated when the 2010 budget is adopted in May as the school district copes with a $170 million shortfall. School officials say the measure would affect about 2,600 athletes and save the county an estimated $471,000.

Schools Superintendent Jack D. Dale unveiled three budget proposals at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting last week. Each proposal called for gymnastics to be cut; indoor track would be nixed in the most severe proposal, which also included cuts of $219 million and the elimination of 1,500 county schools positions.

"There are going to be cuts," said Fairfax County Director of Student Activities Bill Curran, noting most of the cuts are not related to athletics. "We're looking at taking the impacts that we can survive and maintaining as many of our programs as we can."

Such a move, made in a county that has been ranked among the nation's wealthiest and with 24 of its 25 schools appearing on Newsweek's 2008 list of America's Top Public High Schools, is a consequence of the nation's economic crisis. Fairfax, a county with a median household income of more than $100,000, has experienced a steep decline in housing prices and anticipated property tax revenue, according to Curran.

"It simply isn't realistic to think we can operate with vast budget cuts and not talk about the athletics. It's all got to go together," Curran said.

Fairfax, however, appears to be the only county in the Washington area willing to cut sports. School athletic officials in Arlington, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Anne Arundel, Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert counties, and Alexandria and the District say they do not plan to eliminate any high school sports.

All of those jurisdictions except Loudoun offer indoor track; in Maryland, only Montgomery and Anne Arundel offer gymnastics.

Curran said Fairfax targeted gymnastics and indoor track for cuts because there were other avenues for those athletes to compete. "Gymnastics has it at the private level [club gymnastics], and track really had it in the spring," Curran said. "There are still some opportunities to run in the spring and for distance runners to do cross-country in the fall." According to the FCPS schools' budget cut proposal, cutting track would shave $250,000.

"I don't know why track would be targeted. Think about it -- it's so simple. For a poor kid, all you need is a pair of shoes and a good coach," said Herndon's Peter Sherry, who coaches the school's indoor, outdoor and cross-country teams.

Gymnastics cuts would affect approximately 125 female athletes and save the county an additional $221,000 through the elimination of 25 head coaching supplements, 25 assistant coach supplements, officials fees and transportation. In Fairfax County, a head gymnastics coach is paid a $4,000 stipend.

"We've seen a steady decline in participation over the past seven or eight years," Curran said of gymnastics. "It's been on the table for the past few years."

Curran said that 14 of 25 Fairfax schools fielded gymnastics teams last winter. In 2002, Fairfax County had 21 active teams and had more than 200 girls participating.

"Because [gymnastics] is not in every school, not everyone supports it," said W.T. Woodson Coach Mike Cooper, whose teams have won more than two dozen local and state boys' and girls' titles in his 25-year career. "Because some schools don't have a team, it's easy to say, 'Yes, let's cut it.' The schools that have it and support the program see that it's beneficial."

About 2,500 students participate in indoor track, which has long served as a catch-all sport for athletes looking for a way to train during the offseason.

"All of the sudden you are sending 2,500 kids out into traffic, out into the streets with nothing to do," Sherry said.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hobbled RB Clinton Portis unable to get Washington Redskins moving

Hobbled RB Clinton Portis unable to get Washington Redskins moving
Special to the Star-Telegram

LANDOVER, Md. — Nearly three hours before kickoff, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis was standing at the 20-yard line, sandwiched between two team trainers while head coach Jim Zorn, defensive coordinator Greg Blache and two other members of the coaching staff watched from the sideline.

Portis took his cues from the trainers, running routes and performing a number of other exercises in what appeared to be the equivalent of a tryout, all to prove that his sprained left knee, which kept him off the practice field during much of the bye week, was strong enough to carry Washington toward the top half of the NFC East and drop Dallas deeper into its basement.

But even with an active Portis (15 carries, 68 yards) on Sunday night, Washington managed just 228 yards of offense and could not overcome Portis’ counterpart, Cowboys running back Marion Barber, who finished with 114 yards rushing and a touchdown and was Dallas’ leading receiver with six receptions for 39 yards.

"I was surprised that [Portis] played because of the knee injury that he had, and if you looked at him on Friday, you would have thought no way," Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell said.
Portis’ first carry — a 5-yard burst — pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark in 10 games, the quickest he’s reached the milestone in his seven-year career.

But he also became the sixth premier back whom Dallas has held under 100 yards this season.
Portis rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries during the Redskins’ 26-24 victory over Dallas on Sept. 28, a result that left both teams at 3-1.

"Even with all the pain that he was going through, he still tried to give it his all," Campbell said of Portis.

With backup Ladell Betts (knee) listed as probable and Shaun Alexander and Rock Cartwright having combined for 14 carries and 36 yards in the previous nine weeks, Portis — the NFL’s second-leading rusher entering Sunday with 995 yards and seven touchdowns — "was out there fighting with his teammates," Campbell said.

"We’ve just got to score points," Cartwright said. "If we score points, we’ll win football games."
Portis was solid on the Redskins’ first drive — a 10-play, 49-yard in which he rushed five times for 29 yards, accounted for two first downs and broke a 9-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the 11-yard line to set up Campbell’s 2-yard play-action touchdown pass to Mike Sellers.

But Portis found little running room the rest of the game, which was bad news for Washington against its bitter division rival.

The Redskins have won five of their past eight games against the Cowboys, and in their three losses Portis either did not play or was held well under 100 yards.