For the past decade, H.D. Woodson Senior High School and Friendship Collegiate Academy have set a high standard for high school football in the city, but the two Ward 7 neighborhood schools rarely play one another. That’s about to change.
Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray on Friday, July 7 held a celebratory event at a Northeast restaurant, where Woodson and Friendship officials and graduating seniors from both schools participated in a Memorandum of Understanding signing to ensure that the football teams’ “Ward 7 Clash of the Titans” becomes an annual event.
“I am proud to honor the achievements of the scholars of both [Woodson] and [Friendship] and advance this competition between outstanding athletes,” Gray said. “It’s going to be a great game. I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t looking for a larger venue after last year.”
The signing established a collaborative agreement between the two schools for the football competition and to ensure an annual implementation of the game.
Gray said the game will foster healthy competition between the two teams, draw a large crowd and create future opportunities for the players, as organizers expect the game to be attended by numerous college scouts and media outlets.
“[The game is] an opportunity that showcases the best talent in football in D.C.,” said Friendship Principal Curtis Lawrence. “It’s not only a great opportunity to have a great game … but also a great opportunity to get young men of color into colleges of their choice.”
This year’s Clash of the Titans is set for Sept. 15 at Woodson.
“It’s bigger than just a football game — it’s a rally,” said Woodson coach Greg Fuller. “We’re not concerned about winning, we’re concerned about developing young men.”
As mayor in 2012, Gray established the D.C. State Athletic Association to create formal opportunities for sports teams from the city’s public, private, parochial, independent and charter schools to compete against each other in the first-ever opportunity for sports state championship competitions.
Nevertheless, Woodson, the traditional public school and Friendship, a public charter school met infrequently in regular season games. Between 2009 and 2015, the Woodson Warriors and Friendship Knights played each other only four times, splitting the contests.
In 2013, they competed against one another for the state championship, but would not face off again until 2016 in a regular season game before competing for the state championship that same year.
Though the September 2016 game was on the regular schedule, Gray saw the rare face-off as an opportunity to create an exciting football game in what is now known as Ward 7 Clash of the Titans.
Woodson was the designated home team in that game, and Friendship is set to be home team for this year’s contest.
The home-team designation will ultimately alternate between the two schools. But until Friendship has a field, the game will be played at Woodson or another mutually agreed-upon site in Ward 7.
Each year, the winning team will get a trophy that they will retain for a year.