GAME OF THE WEEK

Thomas Stone at La Plata

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Thomas Stone, 6-0.

Records: Thomas Stone 3-0, 2-0; La Plata 3-0, 1-0. Last game: Thomas Stone beat Northern, 34-0; La Plata beat Chopticon, 22-0.

Each week, Southern Maryland Extra will go to key players to preview the key game of the week. This week, Thomas Stone's Mike Farland and La Plata's Titus Green size up their teams.

Farland on Thomas Stone

* Offense

"Our backfield is set. [Marcus] Whalen is a superstar, and we've got Mike Finamore back there, too. If we can just hold our blocks, we've got two good backs who run hard. There's no big secret to what we're going to do. We don't run any tricky wing-T [formations] like Westlake; we just run hard-nosed, right at you."

Key stat: Whalen, nursing a contusion on his foot, did not score a touchdown last week--the first time that has happened since 1997.

* Defense

"La Plata runs pretty much the same offense we do, so again there shouldn't be too many surprises. They have some good running backs, too, so we just have to be real aggressive. Last week we did that. We had two forced fumbles, and we recovered both of them."

Key stats: The Cougars held five teams--including the Warriors--to seven points or fewer in 1998. This season, Thomas Stone yielded 36 points in its first two games, then shut out Northern.

* Key to victory

"We know this is going to be the toughest game we've played so far, so we have to come out very aggressive. Last year we turned the ball over four times against them, but the defense kept holding up. This year, we can't put ourselves in that position."

Green on La Plata

* Offense

"Everyone knows we're pretty small up front, and sometimes that makes it tough for our linemen to hold their blocks for a long time against bigger guys. But they've been getting the job done. And we have a lot of depth in the backfield, so that is definitely our strength."

Key stat: Green has three 100-yard games this season--he had 117 yards against both Leonardtown and Fort Hill, and 135 against Chopticon.

* Defense

"What keeps us together are Dennis [Williamson] and Raheem [Archer] in the middle at the two inside linebacker slots. Plus, there aren't too many weaknesses in our defensive line. I wouldn't say we're worried about Marcus Whalen, but we're heads-up about it. . . . Our whole team is going to have to work to contain him, but we can't forget about their other running backs, either."

Key fact: Green and Archer have interceptions for the Warriors this season.

* Key to victory

"We have to all float to the ball. If one person tries to bring down Marcus Whalen, he might slip by, but if there are 10 of us around the ball, then he can't get by everyone."

Sneak Peek

* Great Mills at Leonardtown

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Leonardtown, 21-6.

Records: Great Mills 2-1, 1-1; Leonardtown 0-3, 0-2.

Last game: Great Mills lost to McDonough, 17-7; Leonardtown lost to Lackey, 18-13.

Outlook: The Hornets are coming off their first loss of the season, but have a chance to recover against the struggling Raiders. Great Mills's offensive decline has Coach Bill Greer concerned. The Hornets scored 20 points in their season opener, but dropped to 15 in Week 2 and scored seven last week. This could be a good game for Great Mills senior FB Clifford Dukes to shine. Leonardtown has been outscored, 100-28, through its first three games.

* McDonough at No. 10 Westlake

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Westlake, 14-3.

Records: McDonough 1-2, 1-1; Westlake 3-0, 2-0.

Last game: McDonough beat Great Mills, 17-7; Westlake beat Calvert, 25-22, in double overtime.

Outlook: Westlake may be undefeated, but Coach Dominic Zaccarelli has been anything but pleased with the play of his Wolverines. The biggest problem has been mental mistakes, he said. Westlake was penalized 15 times for 113 yards in its come-from-behind win over Calvert. Still, RBs Recardo Evans and Gonzie Gray give Westlake a good chance to defeat McDonough, which has struggled against the run this year. Rams QB Travis Peters has been a bright spot, throwing for 130 yards last week.

* Northern at Calvert

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Calvert, 20-19.

Records: Northern 0-3, 0-2; Calvert 2-1, 0-1.

Last game: Northern lost to Thomas Stone, 34-0; Calvert lost to Westlake, 25-22 in double overtime.

Outlook: Calvert's character will be tested--a week after a heart-breaking loss to Westlake (the Cavaliers squandered a 22-0 lead), the team hosts its biggest rival. If QB Orion Canine and WRs Marshall Cooper and Treaven Wills lead the way, Calvert should be able to recover. Northern will have to get its offense on track to win--the Patriots have managed 12 points in their first three games.

* Chopticon at Patuxent

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Did not play.

Records: Chopticon, 1-2, 0-1; Patuxent 3-0, 2-0.

Last game: Chopticon lost to La Plata, 22-0; Patuxent beat Southern, 44-0.

Outlook: Chopticon may have to play without standout WR-S Jamie Byroads, who left Saturday's game against La Plata in the first quarter with a hip pointer. Coach Andy Palko said Byroads's status for the game is questionable. After the injury, Chopticon collapsed, Palko said. That's something the Braves can't afford to do against Patuxent, which has posted 114 points this season, giving up seven. The Panthers are led by RB Terry Caulley on offense and DB DeAndre Mitchell on defense.

* Central at Lackey

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last season's meeting: Did not play.

Records: Central 3-0; Lackey 1-2.

Last game: Central beat Crossland, 53-0; Lackey beat Leonardtown, 18-13.

Outlook: Central, a Prince George's 2A school, has been putting up big numbers on offense--something that could cause the low-scoring Chargers problems. Lackey, shut out the first two weeks of the season by Gwynn Park and Westlake, scored 18 points last week in its first win of the season. The Chargers were led by junior RB Martin Queen, who had more than 150 yards of total offense.