New district alignment renews rivalry

Separated by five miles on a four lane road, Annandale and Woodson were once such fierce rivals that virtually everybody involved had their favorite story about their favorite game. They share a common border so large that many of the kids who ended up playing against each other in high school were actually good friends in grade school.

Due to district re-alignemnt, the Woodson Cavaliers and Annandale Atoms are competing against each other once again. This new school year will bring a new face to the district in which the Cavaliers and Atoms will again be regular competitors after too many years apart.

When W.T.W. first opened in 1962, it was essentially in the middle of nowhere. Built on 79 acres of land off of a dirt road, Woodson did not have the small community feel that Annandale did.
They did, however, have many highly competitive athletes who quickly made their mark on the original Northern District. The district, which included the thirteen high schools in Fairfax County, featured the “triangle rivalry” of neighboring schools Annandale, Woodson, and Fairfax.

While Woodson regularly ruled the gym, the Atoms ruled on the gridiron, breaking Cavalier hearts en route to collecting state championships in1965, 1967, 1972, 1978, 1993 and 1994.
Even as the county expanded to include nineteen schools, Annandale and Woodson remained in the Northern District after two other districts, the Potomac and Alexandria, were added.

Both schools were eventually switched to the Potomac District, where they remained until 1979. In that year, while Woodson switched back to the Northern district, Annandale stayed.
In the early 1990’s, the four current districts, the Patriot, Liberty, Concorde, and National were created with Annandale in the Patriot and Woodson in the Liberty. The schools still met regularly in some sports, including football and basketball, until the late 1990’s.

The Atoms own the all-time record against the Cavaliers in football, winning 24 games to Woodson’s 10. Annandale has also not lost to the Cavaliers since 1989, though the last meeting was in 1998.
“It’s great that we’re playing them again. When I went to Annandale, it was the biggest rivalry in the area. They have a good athletic program and it will be fun to compete against them,” said Atoms head football coach Dick Adams.

One person who saw the rivalry from both sides of the fence is long time WTW boys basketball coach Red Jenkins.
Jenkins, who coached the JV boys at Annandale from 1959-1961, moved to Woodson in 1962, said Woodson and Annandale were “always in the same district. The games were always a big deal because so many of the players and coaches knew each other.”

When the school opened and Jenkins switched, many students also switched due to re-drawn boundary lines. This meant that many of those who had played basketball for him at Annandale, were now with him in the quickly growing Woodson program.

Although the schools haven’t played for years, the games will once again be like a reunion for some. “About half the kids from my elementary school went to Woodson so I’m really excited to play them this year. It’ll be cool to go to the football game and see everyone too,” said junior Natalie Johnson.

Others see Woodson as another team to compete with, and a good one at that. “They’re pretty good at lacrosse so it should be an interesting game this year,” said junior Nathan Miller.
Both the Atoms and Cavaliers have had success in sports in the last ten years. The schools are both particularly strong in football, field hockey, and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. The Cavaliers also claim a very strong swim team, while the Atoms  likely now have the edge on the basketball court.With new athletes and new coaches, it remains to be seen how chapter two of the rivalry will play out.