Caleb Ikner walked the halls of La Plata High School on Tuesday and could not believe what he was hearing -- schoolmates talking about the football team. His football team.

"It was a lot more than usual," Ikner said of the hallway conversations. "But, hey, any is more than usual."

The few instances Ikner has heard his peers talk about football his three previous years at the school, they have been demeaning. The Warriors have won just one game each of the past two seasons. That, however, might change after La Plata's thrilling 19-18 victory in its season opener last Friday over Chopticon. The electric home crowd was unlike any in recent memory.

Senior Travis McConnell's eight-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left capped a fourth-quarter comeback in which the Warriors scored the game's final 12 points.

"You could walk through the halls proud," McConnell said Tuesday. "You didn't have the student body saying, 'Oh, you're starting another losing season.' The community knows we've been working hard. They wanted to come out and see us."

La Plata athletic director Cliff Nagle estimated there were close to 1,200 in attendance, which he said dwarfed any crowd, excluding those of homecoming games, that he can remember since the Warriors moved home games to their back yard from White Plains Regional Park about six years ago.

None of this mattered to the Warriors' first-year coach, Chris Davidson.

"All week," Davidson said, "people told me, 'Don't be frustrated if there aren't a lot of people there. Don't be disappointed if things don't go smoothly right away.' . . . After we scored with 30 seconds left, I said, 'Hey, you're acting like you've never won before.' And then I thought, 'Whoa, they really haven't.' That's why the seniors were so emotional afterward."

Those seniors -- only 10 of the 35 varsity Warriors -- know this victory is the first, albeit biggest, step toward their goal for this season.

"We want to turn it around," said Ikner, who had 15 tackles from his linebacker spot. "We knew we had to win a game first before we could start thinking about a winning season."

But the Warriors did take a moment to savor just what winning felt like.

"I was looking up at the clock with 30 seconds left, looking at the crowd, and everyone was screaming," said junior quarterback Matt Orzechowski, who relieved an injured B.J. Conley late in the third quarter and led the comeback.

"It's all a new thing at La Plata," he said. "We made a statement out there that this is a new era."

Great Mills at Thomas Stone

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Records: Great Mills (0-1 overall, 0-1 SMAC) ; Thomas Stone (1-0, 1-0).

Last week: Great Mills lost to McDonough, 51-0. Thomas Stone defeated Leonardtown, 28-6.

Last meeting: Thomas Stone won, 50-0, on Sept. 12, 2003.

Outlook: Great Mills sat in its locker room at halftime last week wondering whether all the optimism it generated over the summer had disappeared. The Hornets trailed 48-0 and were on their way to committing five turnovers and dropping three touchdown passes. "Everything we did not do in preseason, we did Friday night," Coach Bill Greer said. For the Cougars, junior running back Patrick Swearinger rushed for 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week to make his case to become Thomas Stone's featured running back. Seeing how well McDonough was able to combine its rushing and passing games against Great Mills, look for the Cougars to try the same. Thomas Stone's senior quarterback, Ryan Sirna, completed passes to four receivers last week for 72 yards.

Lackey at Chopticon

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Records: Lackey (1-0, 1-0); Chopticon (0-1, 0-1).

Last week: Lackey defeated Calvert, 45-7. Chopticon lost to La Plata, 19-18.

Last meeting: Lackey won, 28-0, on Sept. 12, 2003.

Outlook: For Lackey, everything went according to plan in its season-opening victory. Morgan Green rushed for 220 yards and six touchdowns, and the game included a pleasant surprise: Junior quarterback Aaron Smith completed all six of his passes -- to four receivers -- for 160 yards and a touchdown. For Chopticon, meantime, mounting injuries have come during the toughest part of the Braves' schedule: Huntingtown, Westlake and Thomas Stone are their next three opponents. Senior wide receiver/linebacker Matu Threatt might return this week from a two-week absence with a deep thigh bruise. Others won't be so lucky; sophomore fullback Darren Showalter will miss at least a month after separating a shoulder against La Plata. Junior guard Corey Middleton is out for the season following surgery for a broken ankle.

McDonough at Leonardtown

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Records: McDonough (1-0, 1-0); Leonardtown (0-1, 0-1).

Last week: McDonough defeated Great Mills, 51-0. Leonardtown lost to Thomas Stone, 28-6.

Last meeting: McDonough won, 20-0, on Sept. 12, 2003.

Outlook: McDonough played like the veteran team it is in a most impressive opener. The Rams did what few high school teams can do -- effectively mix the run (a combined 213 yards and four touchdowns from Dominic Carter and A.J. Wallace) and the pass (85 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Corey Yates on completions to three receivers). Senior wide receiver/defensive back Irvin Dorsey missed the game with a sprained ankle, but classmate Rob Gregory, playing in his first high school football game, intercepted two passes. Dorsey should return this week.

Northern at Huntingtown

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Records: Northern (0-1, 0-1); Huntingtown (0-1, 0-1).

Last week: Northern lost to Westlake, 34-10. Huntingtown lost to Patuxent, 27-16.

First meeting.

Outlook: It's hard to imagine any game being critical in the second week of the season, but come Saturday morning, one of these teams will be 0-2 and straining to salvage its season, with plenty of tough opponents remaining. Northern's defense hung very tough with Westlake's talented running game for nearly three quarters last week but simply could not withstand the Wolverines' depth, which wore down the Patriots for two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Huntingtown was markedly improved after halftime last week, and if the Hurricanes can continue at that rate, watch out. They committed three first-half turnovers against Patuxent and only one after halftime. Huntingtown has to do a better job of preventing big plays; three of Patuxent's touchdowns came on plays of 22 yards or longer, and two came on the first play of a possession.

Patuxent at Westlake

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Records: Patuxent (1-0, 1-0); Westlake (1-0, 1-0).

Last week: Patuxent defeated Huntingtown, 27-16. Westlake defeated Northern, 34-10.

Last meeting: Westlake won, 20-0, on Sept. 12, 2003.

Outlook: Westlake's defensive front, led by senior Jerrell Edelin (eight tackles, 31/2 sacks), was terrific at pressuring Northern last week. It will get a tougher test, however, against Patuxent, which rushed for 240 yards in defeating Huntingtown. That running game will hinge on whether junior Robert McClain, who left the Huntingtown game midway through the third quarter with a leg injury. Westlake might keep junior Aaris Reed at linebacker, where he was very strong last 0week. That allowed the Wolverines to move junior cornerback Pha'Terrell Washington to Reed's free safety spot and rotate four players at cornerback.

McDonough's Dominic Carter, along with fellow rusher A.J. Wallace (not shown in picture), dominated Leonardtown last week. Pha'Terrell Washington, receiving blocking help from Luis Santiago, right, is part of a deep Westlake backfield that wore down Northern. Thomas Stone quarterback Ryan Sirna, shown stretching, passed for 72 yards in the Cougars' 28-6 victory over Leonardtown. Quarterback Aaron Smith passed for 160 yards to augment Lackey's strong running game in a 45-7 season-opening win over Calvert.