When he interviewed for the coaching vacancy at Gar-Field, Joe Mangano handed out 50-page binders outlining his plans for running a team. School officials might need to print up equally informative game programs this season, because no one really knows who these Indians are, or what they're capable of achieving on the varsity level.
Gar-Field returns only two all-district players, and the coaching staff has turned over entirely, save for two assistants, since three-year coach Jim Poythress resigned to become head coach at Lake Braddock.
But the 2003 freshman and junior varsity teams went undefeated.
"Technically, they're inexperienced, because they haven't played at the varsity level, but they're very good athletes," said Mangano, offensive coordinator at Stonewall Jackson last season. "They can play."
Linemen Kevin Crawford, who has unofficially committed to the University of Virginia, and Mark Logan are the only proven pillars. The starting quarterback is a sophomore, Savion Frazier, typical of the inexperience at the skill positions. Derrick Holt, a second-team all-district running back and linebacker, transferred back to Woodbridge.
Although questions abound and the shadow cast by Hylton looms large -- 13 straight defeats to the Bulldogs -- almost every other school in the area would love to claim Gar-Field's track record of seven playoff appearances the past 10 years, with 12 straight wins over Woodbridge and a 6-0 record against Forest Park.
But those are teams that this season, more than any other recent year, could pose serious challenges to the Indians.