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November 9, 2011
Taft stars talk Army Bowl and beyond
We will learn if that will become a reality when the senior standouts announce their college decisions on Nov. 22. And while their season at Taft has concluded, the duo is guaranteed to be teammates in at least one more game.
Washington, a Rivals100 defensive end, and Stanford, a Rivals250 wide receiver, will get that chance when they suit up for the East team at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7 in San Antonio, Texas.
Washington and Stanford were presented with Army Bowl jerseys during a ceremony at their high school on Wednesday, and the significance of their accomplishment was not lost on the Taft teammates.
"It means all the hard work I put in over the years is finally paying off," Stanford said. "All of the times I had to miss out on something because I had a practice or a game, it's finally going to pay off. It's a great honor to be selected for something like this, with such prestige and such tradition. I'm really honored to be an Army All-American."
Washington echoed that sentiment.
"It feels real good that they acknowledged all my hard work and all of the sacrifices I had to make," he said.
Washington and Stanford are close off the field and outside of school, and they realize sharing the experience of the Army Bowl will only make it better.
"They say the best things in life are things you can share with somebody," Stanford said. "So me and him going through this experience together, I have somebody down there that I can lean on and talk to all the time."
While the friends are excited to participate in the Army Bowl, yet another member of the Taft family will be joining them.
Mike Martin, the Taft head football coach, will be a member of the East team coaching staff. Martin, who will retire from coaching after the Army Bowl, believes his players epitomize what the game is all about.
"It's a situation where we've got two guys who worked extremely hard from the time they stepped foot into Taft until now, and it's a perfect example of working hard on the field and in the classroom," Martin said.
Martin also knows his players will relish the chance to take the field with the best high school players in the country.
"They believe they are the best players at their positions, and it's a great opportunity for them to go there and show what they're made of," Martin said.
And while the players and their coach are thrilled for the opportunities that await them in San Antonio, two very big decisions will be made in less than two weeks.
"We just want to go somewhere where we're wanted and somewhere where we both feel that we fit in and somewhere that we can see ourselves being for the next three to four years," said Stanford, who will take an official visit to Oregon for the Ducks' game against USC on Nov. 19.
Washington, who has an official visit to Cincinnati set up for this weekend, said: "If we end up going to the same college, it will just be like bringing a friend along."
Washington, Stanford and the rest of the East team will take on the West squad in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.