The game: No. 3 DeMatha at Paul VI Catholic.

Kickoff: Fairfax, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Records: Stags 5-0-1, 3-0 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference; Panthers 6-0-1, 4-0-1.

Last season: DeMatha, 62-0, in WCAC semifinals.

Key players: DeMatha RB Anthony Riley, DEs Jason Lallis and Derek Wake, LB Mikaal Baaqee; Paul VI Catholic QB Colin Hannigan, RB Andre Eason, WR-DE Tyree Spinner.

Stags' key to victory: Play to their capability. DeMatha is more talented and has more tradition than Paul VI. Last season's playoff meeting, in which the Stags led 34-0 at halftime, was the teams' first meeting. Riley is averaging more than 200 yards per game and has improved with every game, according to Coach Bill McGregor.

"He has been very, very consistent all the way through," McGregor said. "He's doing a great job."

McGregor said his team has been streaky, failing to play its best in consecutive games. However, he has been pleased with its perseverance; the Stags have rallied in the second half twice, tying Dunbar, 14-14, in the season opener after falling behind 14-3 and beating McNamara, 34-8, Saturday after trailing 8-7 at halftime.

"The thing I was very proud about was they did not quit," McGregor said. "We were behind and faced a little adversity and came back and made some thing happen."

Defensively, LBs Jimmy Blackwell, Marco Hardie and Marcus Elbert have been playing well, McGregor said, although Elbert was suffering from shin splints and did not play against McNamara. He is expected to play this week.

Panthers' key to victory: Hit the big play and pull a surprise or two. Since these two teams have only played once, McGregor is a little wary of what to expect, even though he has scouted two Paul VI games in person and has seen three game films.

"You still don't know a lot about them," McGregor said. "It's not like playing Gonzaga or Carroll or St. John's or teams that we play every year."

Since a scoreless tie against Gonzaga in its third game, Paul VI has altered its offense, McGregor said, often playing with no running back and with Hannigan working out of the shotgun.

"He is for real," McGregor said. "He can throw short and long and he has great touch. The other thing that is impressive about him is his toughness. He will hang in the pocket or scramble. He's a hard-nosed kid and he plays the position very, very well."

WR Ryan O'Hare and Eason are Hannigan's favorite targets. Defensively, LBs Jerry Robertson, Nick Gallagher and Thomas Hoover are strong. The Panthers have had a breakthrough season, with their first victory ever over Carroll and the tie against Gonzaga.

"Up to this point, they're the best team that we've played on our schedule," McGregor said. "What makes them so tough is they're so explosive offensively and defensively. They've been playing very good football."

Directions: Take I-66 west to Exit 60 (Route 123). Follow the signs toward Fairfax and then make a right at the second light. The school is at 10675 Lee Highway, a half-mile down on the left.

--Josh Barr

Other Games of Note

Oxon Hill at Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic, Saturday, 7 p.m.: The Clippers will make a three-hour trip to play one of Pennsylvania's better teams. Despite last week's victory over High Point, Oxon Hill is 3-3 and has only a slim chance of making the playoffs even if it wins its remaining four games. Even so, this is a chance for the Clippers to earn respect by beating the Golden Hawks (4-2). Bethlehem Catholic RB Dave Wilson rushed for 303 yards in a victory this past weekend and is the leading rusher in the Lehigh Valley.

Fairmont Heights at Central, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: A crucial game in the Prince George's 2A/1A league and in the Maryland 2A playoff race. After having its five-game winning streak snapped by Forestville last week, Central (5-1) faces another tough game this week. Fairmont Heights (5-1) has put together a five-game winning streak of its own, including two victories by a combined three points the past two weeks. However, the road to a playoff berth is not easy for the Hornets; their remaining opponents have a combined record of 18-6.

Potomac at Surrattsville, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.: The Braves (5-1) are hot, their only loss coming when they blew a fourth-quarter lead against Paul VI Catholic. WR Glenn Thomas is one of the area's top big-play threats. This is a must-win game for Potomac, which still has Fairmont Heights, Forestville and Central (all 5-1) remaining on its schedule. Surrattsville (3-3) has playmakers in WR Richard Burns and RB Jerod Void. The Hornets need three victories in their final four games to record the school's first winning record since 1996.

--Josh Barr

BY THE NUMBERS

35.6

Average points scored by DeMatha during its five-game winning streak.

2

Fourth-quarter comebacks by Paul VI Catholic this season. They rallied to beat Potomac, 30-22, with 18 unanswered points and edged Carroll, 21-16, on a last-minute touchdown pass from Colin Hannigan to Andre Eason.

18

Consecutive regular season conference victories by DeMatha since a 28-26 loss to Good Counsel in 1996.

SCHEDULE

LAST WEEK'S GAMES

Prince George's 4A

Largo 20, Laurel 6

Northwestern 21, Bowie 7

Oxon Hill 42, High Point 22

Suitland 23, E. Roosevelt 7

Prince George's 3A

Douglass 20, DuVal 8

Friendly 28, Bladensburg 0

Prince George's 2A

Fairmont Heights 14, Surrattsville 12

Forestville 20, Central 14

Potomac 24, Gwynn Park 6

WCAC

DeMatha 34, McNamara 8

Others

Parkdale 24, Crossland 8

Riverdale Baptist 20, Bowling Brook 14 (OT)

THIS WEEK'S GAMES

Friday

Prince George's 4A

Largo at High Point, 7:30

WCAC

DeMatha at Paul VI Catholic, 7:30

Saturday

Prince George's 4A

E. Roosevelt at Bowie, 1:30

Laurel vs. Northwestern at High Point, 1:30

Oxon Hill at Bethlehem Catholic, 7

Suitland at Parkdale, 1:30

Prince George's 3A

Bladensburg at DuVal, 1:30

Douglass at Crossland, 1:30

Prince George's 2A

Fairmont Heights at Central, 1:30

Forestville at Gwynn Park, 1:30

Potomac at Surrattsville, 1:30

Others

Pallotti at Wilmington, 1:30

Friendly at Glen Mills (Pa.), 4

Riverdale Baptist at Carroll, 1:30

CAPTION: DeMatha running back Anthony Riley, slipping away from McNamara's Durrell Koon in 34-8 win Saturday, and rest of the third-ranked Stags take on Paul VI Catholic Friday.