The Greatest Game

Thomas Leonard ‘15 | Staff Writer |


The year was 1990. George H.W. Bush was the president, the Berlin Wall had just been torn down, Vanilla Ice was one of the most popular musical artists, and Bishop McNamara Football was on top of the world. Their dominant regular season run through the highly competitive Washington Metropolitan Athletic Conference (WMAC) gave the fans of the Mustangs one of the most exciting and rewarding seasons in the history of McNamara football.

    The season began with a convincing 33-14 win over Madison High School, which was followed by a difficult 13-31 defeat at the hands of Garfield High School in Woodbridge, Virginia. This would stand as the Mustangs’ only loss in this season, as the next three games got the season back on track as McNamara dominated Holy Cross, Robert E. Lee, and O’Connell high schools by an average margin of 24 points.

As the season continued, Bishop McNamara prepared for their impending matchup against their conference archrival, the Stags of Dematha High School. One of the most important moments of the season occurred before that game. This event is especially memorable to current Math Department Chair Mrs. Angelina Diehlmann LR ‘85 who was a teacher at the time.

She remembers that the entire school gathered together for a pep rally. At this rally, the students and teachers sat in silence as the captain of the football team intently told his players that they had more heart and wanted to win the game more than Dematha.

Mrs. Diehlmann said that as the entire school community sat, “So quietly you could hear a pin drop,” they understood just how tight-knit and passionate the football team was. According to her, it was at this moment that everyone knew that they would win the championship.

However, going into the final minute of that game, the Stags, leading 3-0, were poised to end McNamara’s championship hopes. Dematha had the Mustangs right where they wanted them with 20 yards to go on fourth down.

The ensuing play, which the 1990-91 yearbook referred to as,“The most dramatic play in McNamara football history,” was vividly described in the October 7, 1990 issue of the Washington Post. Quarterback Girardeau “Junior” Bynum ‘91 got the snap, and lateralled the ball to wide receiver Asim Penny ‘91. Penny then threw downfield to wide receiver Andre Martin ‘92 who never stopped running until he reached the endzone. This touchdown proved to be the final score in the Mustangs 7-3 upset of Dematha.

Current McNamara teacher Garry Imes ‘92 has fond memories of this signature win that occurred in his junior year. He remembers that after this victory, the school community knew that the Mustangs were championship bound.

Although this was not the final game of the Mustang’s year, in many ways, it represented the climax of the 1990 season. After the Dematha game, the Mustangs easily dispatched the rest of their opponents, ending with a 47-3 rout of the Good Counsel Falcons; a game that was emblematic of the season as a whole in terms of McNamara’s dominance.

Despite the manner in which McNamara easily beat their opposition that season, they were still considered to be underdogs. Mr. Imes remembers how other schools would come to McNamara with bigger players, larger coaching staffs, and more expensive budgets. Despite the advantages the other schools had, McNamara still showed that it was one of the best teams in the area.

However, 1990 marked the end of the WMAC, as the next season was the first season of the current WCAC. 1990 also marked the last time the Mustangs have won it all, but if that season proved anything, it proved that the success of a team is not based on the price of their uniforms, the accolades of their coaches, or even the size of the players. It’s based on their will to win. As for the success of the current football team, many believe history has a way of repeating itself.

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