It didn't take long for Joey Weisen to settle into his role as a starting linebacker for Park View High School--never mind that a year ago, he was a linebacker for one of the Patriots' biggest rivals, Potomac Falls. Weisen, a 6-foot, 206-pound junior, knew most of his Park View teammates, having played football and baseball with them while growing up.

"Joey came over and fit in right away," Park View Coach Mickey Thompson said. "He became one of us very quickly, and I think the guys respect that. He just played football; he didn't run his mouth. He's become more and more of a leader for us."

Weisen leads the Park View defense--which has yet to give up a touchdown in three games--in tackles with 27 first hits and 15 assists (second on the team is another Potomac Falls transfer, junior Tim Murphy, with 16 first hits and 15 assists). In the Patriots' 25-3 victory at Osbourn Saturday, Weisen made 12 first hits, had six assists and knocked down one pass.

"It's kind of like [junior linebacker Kyle] Mazaris and I are unblocked," Weisen said. "Our linemen--Chris Lewis, Joe Larson and Andrew Hoffman--are so big and strong that they go in there and block the other team. That leaves us free. That's the difference--our defensive line."

Weisen earned honorable mention all-Concorde District honors last season after recording 20 solo tackles, 32 first hits and a team-high 65 assists for Potomac Falls. But he says personal reasons prompted his decision to transfer to Park View, where his mother, Jan, is a teacher.

Weisen's older sister, Jackie, a 1996 Broad Run graduate who was a two-time All-Met soccer player, was diagnosed with cancer (osteosarcoma--a bone tumor below her knee), and "with the emotional stress, we thought it would be better if I went to the same school as my mother," Weisen said. "It's an eight-month process with chemotherapy and surgery, but my sister is doing real good."

The Patriots graduated their top two tacklers from last year's team, Jordan Snow and Matt Stavish. Thompson called Snow and Stavish "the best pair of linebackers we've had here since I've been the coach" and said he was concerned with finding someone to step in their place.

Weisen "does a good job with his reads," Thompson said. "He's a really physical linebacker who likes to hit. He likes to square somebody up and get the big hit. That's a dimension we needed this year; we had it last year with Snow. A big hit lifts your defense and gets people excited."