Forty-seven years ago on a late fall afternoon, a young Petey Jones and his teammates walked off a football field in Roanoke, Virginia, having accomplished something just a few months before no one thought possible: bringing home the 1971 state football championship.
Alexandria was a hotbed for racial tension as three reluctant high schools had just months earlier been fused into one. It was a spectacular feat. Longtime ACPS School Security Officer Petey Jones was a senior that year and vividly remembers feelings of uneasiness with the transition. Jones has served ACPS for 29 years.
In 1971 Jones had been the starting fullback on George Washington High School’s football team and starting point guard on the basketball team, but now he would spend his senior year at a new high school trying to regain his claim as a dominant player.
The team struggled through internal conflicts on and off the field, but as the season progressed they drew closer, and things just started to click under the leadership of Coach Herman Boone and Coach Bill Yoast. What could have been a disaster of a season was spun into gold.
Jones credits the gift of song with having helped the team draw together. Jones describes teammate Darryl “Blue” Stanton, a wanna-be professional singer, and his frequent breaking into song as having been instrumental in their success. Being black and white and people learning each other’s songs … that’s one of the main things that helped us come together as a team,” Jones said.
After winning the state championship, the team was given a key to the city by the mayor of Alexandria and city council and were credited with helping bring the city together during a time of racial strife. Jones says the T.C. experience is unique and knows the tradition of inclusiveness will continue with Titans in the future. “T.C. has so many different countries represented now. Back then everything was black and white. Now you’ve got kids coming from all over the world. The big difference between us is … they’ve got more things to deal with than we did,” said Jones.
T.C. Williams Principal Pete Balas says Jones is a Titan in the truest sense of the word. “He has devoted much of his life to T.C. Williams High School and has formed many great relationships with staff and students. He has been here to inspire and guide our students with compassion, integrity and kindness. I am always astounded when visitors come to T.C. to see the school memorialized in Hollywood history and have time to interact with Petey to talk about our school and its rich history. Petey is always generous with his time and wisdom with our guests, often leaving them in tears of emotion and joy,” said Balas.