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Friday, January 3, 2014

DVD captures Annandale High School's preparation for 1972 championship game

The Marching Atoms in 1972. [This photos and the others with this article are from the 1972 film.]
Annandale High School graduate Reuben Weaver (Class of 1980) has been working on a project to convert movies of old Atoms football games to DVDs. Most high schools have long thrown out their old football films, but surprisingly, there’s a treasure trove of old 16 mm movies of Atoms games hidden away in a tall footlocker in a back room behind the AHS locker room.

Weaver, who was born and raised in Annandale and now lives in Strasburg, is working on a history of the first 25 seasons of the Atoms football team. He was poking around in the back room looking for footage when he accidentally discovered an “odd-looking film can.” 

Coach Bob Hardage talks to Bruce Belanger (#10).
What was inside turned out to be a remarkable find: a 23-minute 8 mm film documenting the week leading up to the 1972 state championship game. The Atoms won the game, beating Maury High School of Norfolk 17-8.

The film shows the halls and classrooms of Annandale High School being decorated in advance of the game, cheerleaders practicing, the pep rally, drill team, the field being lined for the big game, the Atoms band arriving, candid shots of then-Principal James Finch, crowd shots, and some footage of the game itself.

Weaver is planning to transfer the film to a DVD and sell copies for $20. All the proceeds will be contributed to the Atoms football program and AHS Athletic Boosters. Anyone who wants to order a copy should email him at He will take orders until Jan. 28, then burn all DVDs and mail them out.

Weaver has been a huge fan of the Atoms ever since he was 10 and used to watch his older brother play. “After watching the ’72 team, it was my childhood dream to play on the team,” he recalls. He went on to play center for the Atoms, and in 1978, when he was a junior, they won the state championship. 

Cheerleader Binky Basnight.

All in all, the Atoms won the state championship six times—in 1965, 67, 72, 78, 93, and 94. “It would be nice if that happened again,” Weaver said. “The team really needs to turn around.” This season, AHS won only one game and lost nine, several by large margins.

The first undefeated AHS team was in 1959, just five years after the school opened. Amazingly, the members of that team, now in their 70s, have stayed in touch and have had several reunions, the student newspaper, the A-Blast, reports. One member of that team, Sonny Utz, went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

The A-Blast story, “Remember the Atoms,” says the 1959 team recently sent AHS a trophy for the display case in the school’s jock lobby in recognition of its championship season and to honor the accomplishments of their coach, coach Russ Snyder, and to express their appreciation for former principal Rob Buckley for supporting the football program.

1 comment:

  1. Would love to see that video!
    Lisa Borror Kelley, Class of 76