Park View won the Virginia AA Northwestern District championship last year before losing to Courtland, the eventual AA state champion, in the regional semifinals.

The Patriots appear to be the favorites in the district again and hope to improve upon last year's postseason showing, but Coach Ed Scott warned the schedule will not be easy.

"We're optimistic," Scott said. "I think our district is tough this year plus our out-of-district schedule is very tough also. It's probably the toughest schedule we've ever had."

Park View, which finished 7-2-1, will face Courtland and a 9-1 Culpeper team in nondistrict games.

The Patriots have experience with 22 seniors, and will be led by tight end/linebacker Jeff Lageman (a 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior), defensive tackle Mike Jennings (5-10, 230, senior) and running back Chris Frye (5-8, 200, senior).

Loudoun County and Osbourn, which tied for second last year at 7-3, should offer a challenge. Loudoun County will return 28 lettermen, led by quarterback Chad Henry (6-2, 190, senior) and tailback Stevie Roberts (5-9, 160, junior). Osbourn will rely on the strength and speed of fullback/linebacker Rodney Warren (6-1, 205, senior), who runs a 4.7 40-yard dash and bench-presses more than 300 pounds, and quarterback Buzzy Presock (5-11, 160, junior).

Broad Run finished third last season at 6-4 and gave Park View one of its defeats.

"We've got a good first group," Coach Jerry Smith said. "My only concern is depth at this point. We've got a lot of guys going both ways."

The most notable one is linebacker/running back Randy Cockrell (6-2, 215, senior), who Smith calls "a major college blue-chip recruit." The Spartans will also rely on running back/linebacker Jack Hardin (5-11, 175, senior) and defensive back/wide receiver Ken Bell (5-10, 165, senior).

Handley struggled last year, finishing 2-8, but has a tradition of being one of the top teams in the district. Tight end Matt Shiffler (6-3, 190, senior) and flanker Tracy McDole (5-11, 185, senior) will lead a seasoned team that figures to improve.

Warren County went 5-5 last year but Coach Rick Pennypacker said this season's squad is inexperienced defensively and lacks overall depth. Nonetheless, the Wildcats are experienced at quarterback with Richie Jones (5-9, 160, senior), who will be starting for the third year. Wide receiver John Green (6-4, 205, senior) and offensive tackle Richie Breese (6-4, 252, senior) also are veterans.

Loudoun Valley has seven starters back from last year's 2-8 team including tailback Shelton Creamer (5-10, 155, senior), fullback/nose guard Jimmy Cullinane (6-0, 185, senior) and tight end/defensive end Mike Burgess (5-10, 180, senior).

In the Class A Bull Run District, defending champion Clarke County looks like the favorite. Last season, the Eagles were 4-3-3, but went undefeated in the district before losing to Madison County in overtime in the regional semifinals. Clarke County will return five starters and will have only eight seniors, but still should be solid.

"Our strongest suit right now is we have five real good running backs who will end up playing an equal amount of time. Our weakness is probably depth and experience within the offensive line," Coach Charles Lutman said.

Leading the Eagles will be linebacker Todd Shiley (6-1, 220, senior), strong safety Melvin Sloane (5-10, 165, senior) and tailback John Meyer (6-0, 175, senior).

George Mason, Manassas Park and Brentsville, each lacking depth, figure to end up close together. George Mason finished last year at 5-3-1 but the Mustangs "just don't have enough players," according to Coach Jack Gambill. But he will have quarterback Rodney Phillips (5-9, 155, senior), who completed more than 50 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,003 yards as a starter last season, and fullback/nose guard Mark Sikkar (6-0, 210, senior).

Only two starters and two seniors will return from Manassas Park's 5-4-1 team last year. Among them will be guard/linebacker Jay Burke (6-2, 215, junior), cornerback John Howell (5-10, 150, senior) and running back James Terrell (5-11, 175, junior).

Brentsville was 1-8-1 last year. Returning for the Tigers are center Ronnie Jones (5-11, 190, senior) and back Mike Terrant (5-8, 150, senior).