As Chancellor's football team was suffering through an 0-10 season three years ago in its first year as a school and with all underclassmen on the squad, not in their wildest dreams could the Chargers have known what the future held in store for them.

But two years later, Coach Scott Miller and his players have a little firmer grasp on their destiny as they gleefully look back on last year's state semifinal berth and this year's 3-1 record.

"I expected to be very competetive last year," said Miller. "We didn't dream of winning the regional championships. That was a little extra something."

Chancellor was created because Courtland, then a Class AAA powerhouse in football, was not big enough to house its increasing student population. The split was divided geographically, but Courtland was allowed to keep all its seniors, and eventually won the state championship.

But Chancellor was faced with playing a Class AA varsity schedule with all underclassmen. Because of familiarity, it adopted Courtland's wing-T offense and was trounced by every opponent it faced.

"We got killed every week," said senior captain Troy Robinson. "In our best game we had 75 yards total offense."

The next year the Chargers severed all ties with Courtland and Miller installed a wishbone offense, featuring sophomore quarterback Kevin Cannon.

But winning still didn't come looking for them. They beat Broad Run the first game of the year, but fell to 2-4 in the weeks ahead.

"I think the boys realized it was a win lose situation," said Miller. "They wanted to go to the playoffs and the only way to go was to win every remaining game."

So they did, including a satisfying, surprising win over Courtland that gave them enough power points to get into the playoffs.

"We realized we had to play as a team, like 11 brothers," said Rodney Woodward, a two-way player for the Chargers. "Because you can't beat 11 brothers."

Chancellor cruised through the playoffs, winning the regional championship game. But Cannon, who had rushed for 1,400 yards on the year, got hurt in the first series in the state semifinal game against Southampton and their season was abruptly over.

And although Chancellor lost that game without Cannon, they had to learn to win without him because he transferred to Snow Hill High in Maryland this year.

Miller concedes that it is a sore spot with his team, but he says it has made the Chargers a better, more rounded ballclub. "We allowed {Cannon} to rush as many times as he wanted and we neglected our superb running backs," he said. "Last year we had one 1,000-yard rusher. This year we have the possiblity of having two."

He's speaking of Woodward, who has close to 400 yards and eight touchdowns in four games. He also has returned a punt 55 yards and has kickoff returns of 93 and 89 yards yards. His wishbone partner is sophomore Melvin Davis, who has five touchdowns and more than 300 yards rushing.

Brian Ratliff runs the offense this year. Although he's not as athletic as Cannon, he has thrown for two touchdowns on an offense that rarely puts the ball in the air and has guided the Chargers to nearly 27 points a game.

The defense is equally as strong, if not stronger. Last week's loss to Nottoway was the first time in 11 games the Chargers have allowed an opposing back over 100 yards and the first time a team has gained over 200 yards total offense. Spotsylvania was held to 45 yards as a team.

Defensive end Charles Beasley already has nine sacks and anchors a unit that hasn't given up more than two touchdowns in a game.

Junior linebackers Jesse Skillman and Ian Edwards are stalwarts against the run while all-region free safety Shawn Szakelyhidi and Woodward (two interceptions) are solid in the defensive backfield.

And while the Chargers admit that their cohesiveness comes from playing together for three years, they also think the team has a special bond resulting from that nightmarish winless season.

"The best thing about that is we learned how to lose," said Robinson. "When you lose you're down in the dumps and you don't want that feeling. It made us work a whole lot harder."

"I wouldn't recommend 0-10 to any program," said Miller. "But now we play scared. We remember the 0-10. We took our lumps and now we look back and we can hand out our own."