Dennis Baughan, Edison High School's football coach the past five years, will be returning to his alma mater next fall to replace retiring Herndon Coach Don Noll.

Baughan, a 1964 graduate of Herndon, was named last week. He was among more than 20 applicants for the Hornets job. Before taking over at Edison, where he finished 4-5-1 in 1985, Baughan served as an assistant at Appalachian State and at Lee, Langley, Lake Braddock and Herndon.

Noll leaves after directing the Hornets to the Great Falls District title in 1985. It was Herndon's first district championship since moving up to Group AAA in 1967. Noll announced his retirement soon after the season ended.

"We took our time to make sure we picked the best person who would fit into our program," said Ruth LeDane, Herndon's assistant athletic director. "We had a top-quality program, especially the past five years, under Don Noll, and we look forward to Dennis continuing to be successful."

Complicated proposals to change the format of the Virginia state football playoffs continued to be tinkered with this week, although decisions are expected to be made Friday at the Virginia High School League meeting in Harrisonburg.

The basic plan would have the state tournament at each of the three groupings (AAA, AA and A) divided into an upper and lower division bracket, thereby creating six state champions instead of the current three. The lower division would have been composed among the smallest schools in each grouping, but any small school that won its division would have been given a choice of participating in the upper or lower tournament.

The latest version of the tournament would place all the best of the smaller schools at each level in the lower division tournament, disregarding whether they would have qualified to play in the upper tournament against bigger schools.

The plan is of particular interest to the Northern Region, where 27 of the 28 schools play on the AAA level. If the plan was in effect this year, nine Northern Region schools would have been eligible for selection to the lower division tournament.

The Virginia state basketball tournament begins its second year in Harrisonburg Friday after moving from Charlottesville, and if some Northern Region representatives have any influence, the tournament may soon find itself at George Mason's Patriot Center.

Members of the Virginia High School League decided to leave Charlottesville because of a strong feeling the city was not putting sufficient effort into making the tournament a success. And Harrisonburg has had a problem providing adequate hotel space.

If the boys and girls tournaments are doubled in size, as will be proposed at Friday's VHSL meeting, Harrisonburg's adequacy as the host city will be further debated.

Dr. John Alwood, the principal of Lake Braddock and a delegate-at-large to the VHSL Group AAA executive board, and Bob McKeag, president of the Northern Region boys coaches association, would like to see the Patriot Center host the tournament either on a permanent basis, or as part of a statewide rotation of sites.

"I don't think moving the tournament will come up at the meetings during the tournament," said Alwood. "But it will probably be a major topic at our May meeting. We are looking for a place where the tournament will draw spectators and that has adequate facilities to handle something of this size."

McKeag said his association will make its pitch to acquire the tournament at its meeting later this month.

Most basketball coaches would long lament their misfortune if their team blew a 12-point second-half lead and was eliminated in the first round of a tournament, but Lake Braddock's second-year coach, Mike Wells, was already talking about next season after it happened to him.

In 13 seasons since the school opened, Lake Braddock has won only two regional tournament basketball games, both in 1984. In losing to Herndon, 55-51, in this year's first round, the Bruins extensively used three sophomores, including 6-foot-2 Hubert Davis, who averaged 16 points per game.

Jason Coleman, who at 6-3 can play guard or forward, promises to be one of the area's most exciting players over the next two years and 6-4 Charlie Shelley should give the Bruins a solid player in the middle.

Wells admits inexperience may have been the key factor as the Bruins allowed the big lead to slip away against Herndon, but he points out his team was 6-1 against the schools that advanced to the region's final four.