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November 9, 2009

At Paint Branch, first team still stands out

Views from high school sports from photographer Toni L. Sandys

Washington Post

On September 20, 1969, the first football game was played at the newly opened Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville.

The team -- without a mascot or school colors -- opened its season with a 20-0 win over Springbrook. The team went on to finish the season with an 8-0 record, including five shutouts. There was no senior class, and the students were transfers from Springbrook and Sherwood.

"We all came there because we wanted to play football," said Ron Jeffries, above, a captain and running back on the '69 team. "This was an opportunity to play football at a new school and start something entirely from scratch."

Fast-forward 40 years to Friday. The 2009 Panthers -- so named six weeks into that first season and sporting the colors decided upon by the student body in the spring of 1970 -- took the field to end their regular season against the same Springbrook Blue Devils. It was the last regular season game played in the stadium, which will become a construction site for a new school.

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