Before Prince William County public schools fully integrated in 1966, African Americans competed in football in Prince William County as far back as 1915 for the Manassas Industrial School.
MIS, a privately-funded school founded by Jennie Dean that opened for classes in 1894, initially played colleges, including Howard and Morgan State.
The 1926 team played five games and lost once, while also defeating Armstrong High School in a championship game played at Howard University, according to a report by former MIS head football coach Ted Chambers.
Chambers, who taught and coached at MIS for three and a half years, eventually returned to his college alma mater (Howard), where he started the school’s men’s soccer program and served as the head football coach in 1944 as well as the head track and swim coach. He was inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Hall of Fame in 1991.
Facing the possibility of closing due to financial struggles, MIS became a public institution after officials from Prince William, Fauquier and Fairfax counties agreed to buy the school and its property and run it as a regional school serving all three counties as well as others.
After a trial run the year before, Manassas Regional High School officially opened in the fall of 1938.
One noteworthy Manassas Regional graduate was Harold Fletcher, who played quarterback for four years in the early 1950s at Knoxville College (Tenn.) before eventually becoming the school’s head football coach.
In 1958 under head coach Pete Ellis, Manassas Regional went 8-0-1 overall and tied Walker-Grant out of Fredericksburg for the Virginia Interscholastic Association Group II District I title with a 6-0-1 mark. The Bulldogs’ Tyrone Lewis, Lewis Washington, Pete Newman and Aubrey Jackson earned postseason honors.
After neighboring counties opted to build their own schools for African-Americans, Manassas Regional became a Prince William County-only school in 1960 and was renamed Jennie Dean High School.
In 1961, Jennie Dean won the conference title under Ellis with a 5-1 mark.
With full integration taking place in the fall of 1966, Jennie Dean officially closed as a high school after the 1965-66 school year. Rodney Warren and Calvin Johnson were among the standout players on the last Jennie Dean football team in 1965. Warren finished at Osbourn, where he became the county’s first prep all-American. Johnson finished at Gar-Field, where he was all state and helped the Indians go 10-0 in 1967.