After three years of nurturing a high school football program through its infancy and early childhood, Coach Bill Brown of Potomac knows what lies ahead when his team makes its varsity debut in Virginia's tough Commonwealth District.
In another, less competitive district, Brown says, "We might have had a real good first year, you know, been right in contention for a title or something. But the Commonwealth is one of the best football districts in the entire state. I'm not conceding anything, but we know it won't be easy.
"Our biggest problems will be mental. We don't have anyone with varsity experience; we don't have any seniors. We're young and inexperienced, a tough combination against the teams down here."
Potomac, coming off a 9-1 season against jayvee competition (its loss was to the only varsity team it faced, George Mason), is not given much of a chance of finishing out of the cellar this year.
In recent years, the tough and highly competitive brand of football in the Commonwealth District has made it one of the most respected leagues in the state. The longtime dominant teams from Gar-Field and Woodbridge now are getting heavy competition from James Wood of Winchester and Stonewall Jackson of Manassas.
Wood, which won the district title a year ago, has been accorded the favorite's role this year despite the loss of all-district running back Garland Williams, who broke his arm in preseason practice. The Colonels still have a strong back in Mike Taylor and plenty of other assets.
Gar-Field, with speedster Joe Miller returning for his fourth season in the Indians' backfield, and Stonewall Jackson will not be easy marks.
Although Potomac will probably rely on its defense and kicking game to try to stay close in its early games (the first five are district contests), Brown says his skill positions are capable of producing points.
"Potomac," said Stafford Coach Terry Hoggatt, "will surprise someone. They have been together now for three years, and if a game stays close, they could catch someone napping and make a mess of what figures already to be a good race."