Now that Potomac and Fauquier have dispatched all other Commonwealth District opponents, the time has come for the two teams to once again play in a game to determine district supremacy.

It seems each year, this final regular-season game is decisive. Potomac has won 24 consecutive district games, including two straight over Fauquier, enabling the Panthers to gain the district championship the last two seasons. Also, Potomac has only four losses the past three years -- two to Fauquier. And though during the season each team certainly concentrates on the game at hand, they know that waiting at the end will usually be the other.

"After our Friday games we always look to see what they did," said Potomac Coach Bill Brown. "I can't remember when it wasn't that way. To be honest, we always look although it doesn't do much good because they don't lose very much."

Chmara feels a little differently. "We only concentrate on the game at hand," he said. "We're not concerned with Potomac or anybody else. We just want to get that victory on Friday night."

The last two seasons the teams have met in a nondistrict game early in the season in addition to the season-ending district game. Fauquier won both of those games only to lose the more important finale. Also, despite finishing second in the district in each of the past three years, when next week's playoffs begin, Fauquier will be aiming for its fourth straight Northwestern Region title.

Potomac is 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the district. Fauquier is 8-1, 7-0. The only blemish on the Falcons slate is a 19-13 loss to Northern Region power Annandale in the season's second week. Fauquier has won seven straight since and comes into this week's duel after a tough 10-6 win over North Stafford last week. On the other hand, Potomac had a 41-13 breather last week against James Wood.

A large crowd and a playoff-type atmosphere is expected at Friday night's 8 p.m. game at Potomac. Even though both teams are already assured playoff berths, the coaches view it as a playoff game.

"I think we go through the season trying to keep up with each other," said Brown. "Fauquier has slipped up a couple of times in the district the past years and we've had the advantage going into the game. But not this year. It's winner take all. We're telling the kids that this gives us five playoff games instead of four."

"This is what high school football is all about," Chmara said. "You get yourself into a position to play a championship game. This isn't a playoff game for the state or anything but it's an important game {for the district title}."

Fauquier handled Potomac rather easily in the early-season nondistrict games the last two years. The Falcons won, 30-7, in 1988 and 20-0 last year. But Potomac turned the tables with 21-0 and 19-16 decisions in the season's final regular-season game.

There have been high-scoring games like Fauquier's 28-21 win in 1987. In contrast, in 1986, the Falcons captured a 9-7 win and Potomac won last year by 3.

In last year's game, Potomac trailed going into the fourth quarter but rallied to win with two touchdowns. In the 1986 contest, played in a driving rainstorm, the Falcons kicked a 35-yard field goal late in the game for the win and a Commonwealth District tie with Courtland, then in Group AAA.

"I thought the ball was going to float off the tee," said Brown of that Fauquier field goal.

This year's game could be another low-scoring affair as both teams are excellent on defense. The Panthers have allowed a district-low 55 points and Fauquier has surrendered 60. The Falcons have the edge offensively with 230 points as compared to 177 for Potomac. But the Panthers offense has come around of late, averaging more than 27 points in the last four games.

"It should be a good old-fashion smack-you-in-the-mouth-type of football game," Brown said. "They play good defense and get after it just like we do. It seems like our games have always been exciting down-to-the-wire type games."

"There's no doubt they have a tremendous defense and they have proven that time after time this season," said Chmara. "We've played them six times in the past four years so they know us and we know them. I definitly feel that a big play could be the difference in this game."

Potomac's defense, led by its outstanding crew of linebackers, hasn't allowed many big plays this year. The unit has permitted one score or less in seven of its nine games. But it will be tested by Fauquier's tricky offense which uses motion, misdirection and multiple sets in an effort to fool teams. And the Falcons offense is known for its big plays. But Brown says that isn't how Fauquier beats Potomac.

"If they run their fullback trap and counter right and left well, then they are very difficult to defend," said Brown. "That's their best offense and when those three plays are effective then all of their gadget plays are better. If the traps and counters are stopped, you know they are going to run the gadget plays."

Fauquier's defense features much stunting on the defensive line and a lot of man-to-man coverage in the secondary. The Falcons usually have 15 defensive objectives for each game and Chmara says "if we reach 9 to 11 of those there is no way anybody beats us." Fauquier has allowed one score or less in six of its nine games.

Fauquier's offense produced just 10 points in last week's game and it was the defense that held strong, allowing one touchdown to North Stafford. The Falcons lone touchdown came on one of their trick plays and Brown will warn his defense about these plays.

"They had the center give it to one of the up backs and the quarterback pretends to hand the ball off to somebody else," said Brown. "But the quarterback never touched the ball. Number one against them is you have to be alert."

Potomac's offense is in stark contrast to Fauquier's. The Panthers prefer a grind-it-out type offense which chews up yardage and the clock. John Newsom has done much of the running for the Panthers and quarterback Gilbert Telleria is very good with the ball. His deft faking ability can open up Potomac's passing game.

Any fan who has not seen the Falcons style of offense is in for a fun evening. But the Potomac coaches don't view this intricate offense as a treat.

"I might consider it a fun offense if I was sitting in the stands watching but it's not fun to coach against," Brown said. "It might be fun to coach it -- they really use their imagination. It's fun to play in big games for district championships but I'd just as soon see them line up in the I-formation and do more traditional things."