At first glance, Gar-Field at Osbourn would not appear to be much of a matchup, considering that Gar-Field has outscored the Eagles, 221-23, the past six seasons.
So why does their Week 1 meeting suggest a possible upset?
Osbourn, whose four wins last season were its most in six years, knocked off three eastern Prince William County teams in 2003 and would love to add the seemingly vulnerable Indians to that list.
Gar-Field returns just a couple of standouts from its 2003 team that went 6-5 -- linemen Mark Logan and Kevin Crawford -- the latter of whom has unofficially committed to the University of Virginia.
After beating Osbourn by 49-0, 69-6 and 42-0 scores from 2000 to '02, the spread narrowed to 21-10 last year.
"I think the kids are feeling good about themselves and where the program is headed," third-year Eagles coach Steve Schultze said. "They feel like it's not the old Osbourn any more. They had success at the double-A level in the 1980s and '90s and our kids think they're ready to have that success at the triple-A level. Each practice we can see improvement in our kids."
Look for the Eagles, with junior Torland Green, sophomore Brandon Hogan and others, to pass more out of their misdirection attack this season. The team threw for only 212 yards and two touchdowns in 2003, with eight interceptions. Green rushed for 332 yards in the Eagles' final three games last season.
The game will mark the debut of Gar-Field Coach Joe Mangano, the Stonewall Jackson offensive coordinator last season. He will start sophomore Savion Frazier at quarterback, one of many untested players, particularly at the skill positions.
"I think offensively and defensively we're just trying to do the basics well because we really haven't done that well in our two scrimmages," said Mangano, whose team faced Spotsylvania and Hayfield in the preseason. "[The Eagles] run a really complicated offense that's hard to prepare for, and [they play] a pretty aggressive defense. So they put pressure on you on both sides of the ball.
"I think the thing with [our] team right now is trying to find an identity. We're still in the process of doing that. . . . The key is, where is it, and where is it going to take us?"