Darious Bowman, William Conway and Charles Luster appear bigger than life on a football field. Coach Steve Powell of Ballou High School hopes that's big enough to reverse last year's record of 2-8.

Bowman, for one, hopes he's small enough. The 5-foot-7, 136-pound starting safety believes he has an advantage over most other players: He's smaller.

"You can get around easier and you have quickness on them (opposing players)," he said.

Bowman is "a hitter and a team leader," Powell said.

"Size is a state of mind; it's a challenge for us," said Luster, a cornerback who stands 5-3 and weighs 149 pounds. "I don't feel like I'm small. I think big. It doesn't bother me. I know I'm short, but I know what I can do with my size.

"I don't think negative. I always think postive. Since I'm small, it makes you pay attention (on the field). If you start, it makes you want to do more on the field."

Conway, at 5-7 and 133, is the lightest of the three. "Conway is one of the better receivers I have," Powell said. "He's a super receiver."

Bowman believes that being small makes him a better football player. "You feel better being small; it makes you try harder," said the starting safety. Bowman said that he never backs away from offensive linemen or wide receivers and that he challenges them head to head. "I rely on my technique. I'll take his (offensive player's) block out and afterwards I'll look him right in his face and see that he's nothing."

Conway, who will be an important factor in Ballou's new passing game, constantly faces bigger defensive backs. "I'll try to rely on my speed and quickness to get past them," he said. "I don't think they can get their hands on me."

He said he doesn't worry about being injured by bigger defensive backs on pass patterns. "I don't think about it (injuries)," he said. "If you think about it, you'll get hurt."

Luster is looking forward to playing preseason favorite Anacostia Oct. 28 for the bragging rights of Southeast.

Bowman's hopes are more specific. He is eager to confront Anacostia all-Met Martin Chesley. He has a special message for the 6-4, 215 tight end: "I hit like a linebacker, so tell Chesley to watch out."

Bowman admires Darrell Green, the Redskins' top draft choice, who is among the smaller players in the NFL. "He's making it and all I have to do is try a little harder," Bowman said.

Conway looks up to all-USFL wide receiver Anthony Carter of the champion Michigan Panthers. "He's a small and quick," said Conway, "plus, he makes the bigger guys look stupid."