Photographer Records Great Moments in Rams’ History

Ian Criman, Editorials Editor

2001 state championship game. It was the fourth quarter, with the thirdstring in (Robinson was up 41-7) and the game was already decided when several Rams football players brought the Gatorade over and dump it over then head coach Mark Bendorf.  Sensing this was about to happen, photographer Frank Ruth ran on to the field get the shot.

“I went out and got my shot, but I was yelled at by the ref who didn’t appreciate me going onto the field to take a picture at that time,” Ruth said. “That was the only time I’ve ever been cursed out by a ref for taking a picture, and the only team I actually felt sorry for after Robinson won.  I think we had like six interceptions that game.”

Frank Ruth has been taking pictures at Robinson football games since 1973, the first year football was offered at our school. It was a different time then, when the school was not as disciplined as it today.

“I bought my first camera in 1953, from an army colonel for $35,” Ruth said. “It was before even flash existed and it was a complicated process to take a picture, and I’ll always remember that colonel because his troops were the first Americans to discover a concentration camp.”

When he was in the Army, Ruth went home for several months on leave to spend time with his mother, who was fighting cancer.

“I knew I was going to be a photographer when my mother looked at me and said ‘Franklin, I want you to leave a trail of good things behind you,” Ruth said. “I’ve always remembered her saying that, word for word.”

Ruth bought his first camera in 1967.

“It was a Nikon, probably one of the first ones they came out with,” Ruth said. “I retired from the Army as a Captain in 1967 and have lived in Fairfax ever since.”

Ruth got hooked on football in 1974, during the first year Ed Henry (the Legend) coached at the school. (Henry was  portrayed in the movie Remember the Titans, before he came to Robinson).

1978 was a big year for Robinson athletics. Three major sports won regionals and went to the state finals, Football, basketball, and baseball.

“That was the first time I’ve seen that happen and I haven’t seen it happen since,” Ruth said. “That year, we had a really good quarterback who eventually played football for UVa.  Ed Henry’s football team annihilated Marshall on Friday, and they played the next Saturday for the state semi-final. I remember it being an awful day with regards to the weather- a noreaster blew in the night before and it was 30 degrees with driving rain and winds going over 30 mph.”

Ruth said the game was tied 7-7 at the end of the game, and the Rams had to punt from their 18 yard line.

“I remember it clear as day, the punt lifted into the air and went past the line of scrimmage and then caught the wind,” Ruth said. “The ball went straight back, and one of their players was able to recover it for the game winning touchdown.”

Ruth said after Henry retired, Henry was an assistant coach at the University of Virginia. Ruth was at a JV game, when they were trying out a new tall, lanky kid who had just moved into the area and wanted to be a running back. After a couple plays, Henry yelled that that kid was going to be a pro. The new kid’s name was Chris Warren, who was an all-American at UVA and ended up playing for the Seattle Seahawks.

“Warren was so fast, and he was really strong and broke tackles with ease,” Ruth said.

In a game against Lake Braddock in the early 1980’s, the Rams were down 19-0 at the half. Robinson had managed to pin the Bruins at the 5 yard line. Lake Braddock decided to throw out of the endzone, and Mike McDaniels, a cornerback at the time, picked the pass off and ran it back for a touchdown.

“I remember that it was the homecoming game, and after the 3rd interception for a touchdown the crowd just went crazy,” Ruth said. “We won by quite a bit, and the kids rushed the field. They knew who I was, so when I went to take a picture, they all stopped and posed for it.”

Ruth said the character of the school has always started from the top and gone down to the bottom.

Ruth said, “The thing about Robinson is that it’s an academic school first. The leadership starting from the principals, to the coaches, to the teachers has always been excellent.”