Story by Dave Owens, 9 Sports
Southeast, D.C. (WUSA) -- The heartbeat of Anacostia football has been fading for years.
"Guys didn't want to play, guys were ineligible," says head coach Cato June.
Coming into this season, the Indians had only won two games in two years, both forfeits by the other team. That's a far cry from the way it used to be.
Settled in the shadows of downtown Washington, D.C., there's history everywhere in Anacostia's streets, including at the local high school.
"We were the Buffalo Bills of the inner high for a minute," says June laughing. "I think we went to eight championships in a row."
Cato June is definitely part of the glory days. He was a superior football player, and Salutatorian student in the classroom before going on to star at the University of Michigan. He also spent seven seasons in the pro's, mostly with the Indianapolis Colts playing in Super Bowl XLI.
The Anacostia High alumnus has returned to his roots as head coach and athletic administrator to help revive the program's heartbeat.
"One of our biggest issues is truancy," says June. "Tony Dungy (June's former coach with the Colts) always used to say no excuses, no explanations."
June has taken his former coach's philosophy and made it fit with his high school student-athletes.
"We have to go to study hall everyday, no exceptions," says senior Ahmahd Ryans. "If we don't go we can't practice."
June's numbers are increasing too. Last year he only had 22 players, barely enough to practice or put together a decent scrimmage. This season he's up to 43. It's a culture change that some are describing as night and day.
In week one of the regular season, June led his Indians to its first non-forfeit win in years. A 52-0 win over Cesar Chavez. A championship may not be on the horizon just yet but June is certainly bringing Anacostia pride back.