On one hand, being undersized doesn't bother Fauquier senior Chris Douglas. He usually shakes off criticism of his 5-foot-7, 155-pound frame with the same ease he ditches pursuers as one of the area's most dangerous kick returners.

"People have always told me that being small actually makes me play better," Douglas said. "I guess they say I work harder because of it."

But that doesn't mean he won't occasionally take offense at the question of how big -- or little -- he actually is.

"I'm getting bigger," Douglas said, smiling shyly. "Isn't that what matters?"

In truth, it probably doesn't matter if he grows. Despite his size, Douglas excelled last season on special teams, where he had 545 return yards and earned all-Northwestern District honors, and at cornerback (fourth on the team with 39 tackles).

And though he worked behind seniors Luke Renick and Dwayne Foddrell and junior J.R. Byrd in the offensive rotation at halfback, Douglas averaged 6.7 yards on 43 carries. He also caught seven passes out of the backfield for 177 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 25.3 yards per reception.

"Size doesn't mean a hill of beans to Chris," said Coach Tom Ferrell, who said he expects Douglas and Byrd to split carries this season. "It never has. He's got real good speed and quickness. . . . He's the type of kid that most coaches dream for.

"He's always striving to get better and improve himself. Other kids look up to him. He's earned that respect, and they certainly do respect him."

Douglas has been consistently clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash and said he plans to give outdoor track a try next spring. "But I'm a 4.4 on a good day," he said, laughing. And he's hoping he'll be able to use that speed to help the Falcons improve on their disappointing 4-6 record a year ago.

"Last year it was like we were more individuals instead of playing as a team," Douglas said. "This year I think we're coming together better. We all just want to do whatever we can to win games. For me, that means being able to find the holes and shoot through them."

And it doesn't hurt that Douglas is small enough to get lost behind the linemen -- and elusive enough to makes defenders miss him in the open field.

"I may not have the size, but the spin moves and the jukes, that stuff comes natural to me," Douglas said. "And I'll take that."

Chris Douglas is one of Fauquier's fastest players; he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.