Gonzaga quarterback Gary McIntosh is no prima donna. His daily summer workout regimen, which included 200-plus passes, was so demanding that Eagles Coach Mark Gowin has asked him to cut back lately to lessen the risk of a sore arm.
Springbrook's Dave Behrmann was a wide receiver, defensive back and kicker last year. To ready himself for another grueling season of triple duty he's concentrating on running and stretching exercises, including running up the steps at Byrd Stadium.
H.D. Woodson offensive guard-linebacker Roderick Daniels knows that strength is the No. 1 requirement of a lineman and has made the weight room his summer habitat. Already a powerhouse, he's grown to 6 feet 3, 250 pounds and bench presses 325 pounds.
These and a few other fiercely determined players are members of one of the area's most elite fraternities -- underclassmen named to the all-Met football team.
Being honored as an all-Met as a junior is not without its burdens, however, and some junior phenoms have failed miserably to live up to their clippings during their senior year. The isolation of the spotlight and the inability to keep a level head can weigh heavily upon the ego of a 17-year-old.
Some, like Herndon wide receiver-safety Barry Johnson, choose to rely on a demanding workout schedule and to deflect individual praise to teammates.
Johnson, a three-sport star who also plays basketball and soccer, lifted weights and ran to prepare for preseason practice, but also played on Herndon's championship summer basketball team in the St. Stephen's League.
"I really don't know what to expect this year," said Johnson, who also is his team's place kicker. "Maybe there'll be more double-teaming; maybe there won't. But whatever it is, I want to be ready. I may get double-teamed more this season, but if that happens, I'll be ready. I've tried to train harder and work harder, so no matter what defense we face, I'll be able to contribute.
"Every year you try to set high goals, but winning the Great Falls District championship seems achievable. Individual recognition is nice, but winning as a team is what counts."
It's been 25 years since Gonzaga won a Metro Conference football title. This year Eagles fans are basing their hopes on McIntosh, who's being touted as one of the best scholastic quarterbacks in the country.
Unusually poised and mature for his age, McIntosh has relied on a no-nonsense work ethic and analytical approach to the game to draw the attention of such colleges as Notre Dame, Maryland, Miami and UCLA.
"I went to four quarterback camps this summer and really worked at my game," said McIntosh, who carries a solid B average at Gonzaga, one of the area's toughest academic schools. "I just want to develop as much this year as I did between my sophomore and junior seasons. If I could focus on one area that I'd like to improve upon, it would be reading defenses. That's the difference between being a great quarterback and all the rest."
Gowin vouches that McIntosh's preseason work has, indeed, paid hefty dividends.
"Gary's already in midseason form with his passing," said Gowin. "He's a college recruiter's dream. With his attitude and physical talents, it's no wonder that he was named to the Street & Smith preseason scholastic all-America team."
But like Herndon's Johnson, McIntosh agrees that team goals and achievements, not individual statictics and awards, are what really count.
"(Wide receivers) Steve Brown, Mike Hollis and I work out every day on our passing game," he said. "We practice all over, anywhere there's green grass. Winning our league title is our first goal and we're doing all we can now to get ready."
A Silver Spring resident, McIntosh would have gone to Springbrook had he not chosen to attend Gonzaga, but don't pity the Blue Devils because they, too, will welcome back an all-Met performer.
Behrmann wants to help Springbrook win its first Montgomery County Class AA League championship in three years, but he has a personal goal that he would like to weave into a championship season.
"I'd like to kick a field goal of 50 yards or longer to help us win a big game," said Behrmann, son of Springbrook athletic director and former DeMatha football coach Joe Behrmann. "I've been kicking plenty of field goals that were 50 yards or longer this summer, but doing it in a game with a win riding on your kick, that would really be something."
He attended the University of Maryland football camp this summer and spent plenty of time after practice with Maryland's special teams coaches. He's already talked to several college recruiters, but realizes that for a kicker to earn a college scholarship, he must have an extraordinary senior season.
"I don't expect to do it by myself," he said, "and I couldn't even if I had to." We've got a very strong team returning and I just want to do my part to help us win. I hope to play well this year as a receiver, as a defensive back and as a kicker, but it's how we do as a team that counts, not just how I perform.
"Who'll care what kind of season I have if we don't win?"
Despite the recent notoriety of the Washington Redskins' "Hogs," the offensive line is no place for a big ego. No one knows that better than Daniels. It's survival of the fittest in the trenches where reputations are difficult to win and even harder to maintain.
"Last year I was named to second-team all-Met and making the first team is my goal this season," said Daniels, a two-year Warriors team captain. "I think you have to lead by example and that's what I've always tried to do. When I'm pulling on a sweep, I play as if no one can stop me, and when one guy does that, your teammates start to pick it up."
He has been sidelined recently with a minor shoulder injury, but still believes that his rigorous summer workouts will yield better results this season.
"Being named an all-Met was a real honor, but that's in the past now," he said. "That was last year. Now I want to get ready for this year. Sure, I want to become an all-Met again, because that means that I'll have done all I can to help Woodson to win the Interhigh League championship."