La Plata at Westlake

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last year's meeting: Westlake, 35-0.

Last week: La Plata (1-6, 1-4) lost to Patuxent, 21-8; Westlake (5-2, 5-0) defeated Leonardtown, 48-21.

Outlook: As long as Dominic Zaccarelli is the head coach at Westlake and Ryan Gick at La Plata, this will not be an ordinary matchup. Gick played for McDonough in the early 1990s when Zaccarelli was an assistant coach for the Rams. Gick then followed Zaccarelli to Westlake, where he served Zaccarelli as an assistant. They remain close friends.

"You definitely don't want to lose to a friend," Zaccarelli said, laughing. "It's a mutual respect type of thing. He wants to show me what he can do and how his team has come along, and I don't want to lose to a young buck. Both of us are very competitive. We'll get at each other a little in e-mails . . . but it's all in fun."

Things on the field have been far more enjoyable for the Wolverines, who have rebounded from two nonconference losses to open the season to rattle off five consecutive wins. In addition to its talented running backs, Westlake's success can be attributed to the continued development of sophomore QB Buck Smith, who completed a season-high 6 of 7 passes last week for 137 yards and two touchdowns. La Plata, meanwhile, continues to search for answers with an offense that has scored just 94 points in seven games, second-worst in the league.

Lackey at McDonough

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last year's meeting: McDonough, 52-6.

Last week: Lackey (4-3, 3-3) lost to Calvert, 16-6; McDonough (2-5, 2-3) defeated Great Mills, 13-12.

Outlook: Several SMAC coaches pegged McDonough as the preseason favorite to win the conference, but a rash of injuries has made life more difficult than expected for the Rams.

Among the fallen are senior standout RB/LB Jay Muschette, who missed most of last season with a pulled hamstring and will likely be out the remainder of this year with a strained ligament in his knee. Still, Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick says McDonough's size and talent cannot be overlooked.

"They're not your usual 2-5 team," Chadwick said. "From looking at them on film and seeing them in person, I can tell you they are still a very dangerous ballclub. Along with Westlake, they're the biggest team we'll face up front."

And that will pose a challenge to a Charger defense that also has been depleted by injuries. DT/OG Nathaniel Leigh, a sophomore, has missed the past two games with a sprained left ankle and is doubtful for the game against McDonough. Standout DE/TE Joe Young, who has nine sacks this season, also is questionable with an ankle sprain.

Northern at Great Mills

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last year's meeting: Northern, 23-6.

Last week: Northern (6-1, 4-1) defeated C.M. Wright, 28-13; Great Mills (0-7, 0-5) lost to McDonough, 13-12.

Outlook: Great Mills Coach Bill Greer said the Hornets played their best game in two years Saturday against McDonough. Though troubles in the kicking game prevented them from picking up their first win, the way the team played gives hope.

"The kids played an exceptional football game," Greer said. "It's a tough one for the team to lose when you're 0-6 and know you came up just that short . . . but it also gives us something to build on."

The Hornets now face an immensely confident Northern team that seems far removed from its days in the conference cellar. Patriots senior TB/CB Delannie Spriggs is the hottest player in the SMAC, having rushed for 545 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two games against Patuxent and C.M. Wright.

"This kid has just come out of nowhere," Greer said. "I saw him on tape against Patuxent and he looked phenomenal, like a bigger [Terry] Caulley. The last two games the kid has been running crazy with just flat speed. I keep looking at the tapes and asking, 'Where did this kid come from?' "

Chopticon at Leonardtown

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last year's meeting: Chopticon, 42-0.

Last week: Chopticon (3-4, 2-3) lost to Thomas Stone, 19-16; Leonardtown (1-5, 0-5) lost to Westlake, 48-21.

Outlook: With Leonardtown's scheduled homecoming game against Calvert postponed two weeks ago because of the sniper attacks, the Raiders have rescheduled the event for this weekend's county rivalry against the Braves.

Chopticon brings a punishing rushing attack, led by senior TB Terrell Reeves, and is known for trick plays. Leonardtown counters with the Washington area's top passing attack, led by QB Josh Bhattacharya and senior WR Ricky Collins.

Even after a season-low 85-yard passing day against Westlake, Bhattacharya ranks first among area quarterbacks, having completed 87 of 165 attempts for 1,308 yards with 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Nearly half of those completions (38) have gone to Collins.

"That kid puts a nice touch on the ball, especially throwing flys down the sideline to Collins," Chopticon Coach Andy Palko said. "But he seems to struggle more when there's pressure on him, so we're going to try and do that. We're also going to try and be a little more physical with [Collins] and see if that makes a difference."

Mount St. Joseph at Thomas Stone

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last year's meeting: Mount St. Joseph, 32-28.

Last week: Thomas Stone (5-2, 4-2) defeated Chopticon, 19-16; Mount St. Joseph (3-5) lost to Steubenville (Ohio), 34-21.

Outlook: As exciting as Thomas Stone QB Antonio Lewis is, the most talked-about athlete on the Cougars' home field Friday night will be Mount St. Joseph's RB Keon Lattimore, the half-brother of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

"They use him everywhere on the field where they think they can get him the ball," Thomas Stone Coach Steve Lindsay said of Lattimore. "You'll see him at running back and wide receiver and tight end . . . all over the place."

Thomas Stone fell behind Mount St. Joseph 13-0 last season and had to play catch-up.

"They run a wide-open, pro-style offense," Lindsay said. "We have to be real sharp because if we make a mistake defensively, their quarterback will find the open receiver. We learned last year that if there's a breakdown in our coverage it usually costs you six points."

The Cougars -- with Lewis and WRs Xavier Davis and Frankie Warren -- also possess the ability to score points in a hurry.

Calvert's Jerome Brooks pulls down Lackey's Courtney Knight during the Cavaliers' 16-6 victory last Saturday. Calvert needs to beat the Panthers Friday night to stay in contention for a postseason berth.