The DeMatha Stags begin this season in a familiar position, No. 1 in The Post's football rankings. They expect to feature a potent offense, with three running backs and two offensive linemen having already accepted college scholarship offers.

RBs Anthony Wiseman and Jeff Allen have told Maryland that they will accept a scholarship. FB Kenny Jefferson and OL Robert Norris plan to play for Virginia Tech, and OL Robert Perkins has chosen Syracuse.

However, a big decision looms as the Stags prepare for Saturday's opener against H.D. Woodson at Eastern High: Who will play quarterback?

Junior Marc Pavlador and senior Carl Chism both were backups last season. If Pavlador plays quarterback, Chism could get in the game at wide receiver or in the backfield. But Coach Bill McGregor also is intrigued about the possibility of having a mobile player like Chism at quarterback -- something the Stags have not had since Sean Gustus in 1996.

"It's nice to have somebody who is an athlete at quarterback," McGregor said, noting that three lopsided scrimmages did little to help him find a successor to last season's starter, Joe Danna. "He's the one guy, for a defense, who is unaccounted for, especially when he starts running."

After playing five of its seven home games last season at the Prince George's Sports & Learning Center in Landover, DeMatha will return to using Parkdale High as its home field. According to a school official, Sports & Learning Center officials significantly raised the cost of renting the facility, making it financially prohibitive. . . .

With standout WR Tim Jennings watching from the sideline because of a knee injury, Pallotti opened its season with a 16-7 victory over Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore last Friday. Gibbons (7-3 last season) was without its top quarterback and linebacker because of injuries, but this had to be considered a significant victory for the Panthers and third-year coach Jack Mead. Jennings, who is being recruited by Army and Navy, is Pallotti's top player; he had 1,045 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns last season. Mead said Jennings is expected to return soon, perhaps as early as Friday in a game at Southern of Garrett County. . . .

Riverdale Baptist must replace all of its skill players, but Coach Kervin Wyatt thinks his team has one thing that should be valuable: size on the offensive and defensive lines. TE/DE Travis Ivey is 6-5 and 275 pounds. OT Troy Clegg is 6-9, 330, and OT Mike Lacey is 6-3, 370.

"A lot of times, linemen can make your team go," Wyatt said.

The Crusaders' program should be helped by the creation of a junior varsity team that begins play this fall.