Between them, Woodbridge and Stonewall Jackson went 36-84 from 1998 through 2003, a prolonged funk made all the more glaring by the fact that Woodbridge had reached the playoffs eight of nine years before that slide and Stonewall had gone 47-20 from 1992 to '97.

Just as both dipped simultaneously, both now apparently are on the upswing, with 3-1 records.

What is this, the mid-'90s?

"I hope so," said Woodbridge Coach Keith King, who took the Vikings' job in 2001. "It goes back to old Woodbridge football and making the playoffs and being successful. That's what we've been striving for for four years."

Woodbridge, which last reached the playoffs in 1997 when it lost to Potomac in the Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 region final, has beaten Potomac, Osbourn Park and Forest Park, with a loss to Osbourn in Week 2.

Stonewall last week ended Osbourn Park's 13-game Cedar Run District winning streak with a 22-14 victory. The Raiders, winners of three in a row after a season-opening loss to No. 8 Hylton, last made the playoffs in 1996, when they lost in overtime to Pulaski, 20-17, in the Division 5 region final.

Second-year Stonewall coach Loren Johnson is not particularly impressed with his team. Never mind that it took the Raiders some 22 games to notch their previous three victories.

"We're a very long way from the glory days," said Johnson, who during his tenure has watched tapes of the successful Stonewall teams. "I told the kids today we were the worst 3-1 team in America right now. We're just not doing the little things. We have to go back to basics and get the fundamental things right. If we don't do that, our 3-1 is going to turn sour in a heartbeat."

Stonewall, with 714 passing yards and 676 rushing yards, has two games left against both Osbourn (2-2) and Potomac (2-2) and single games remaining against Osbourn Park (0-4) and Woodbridge. The Raiders play at Osbourn on Saturday night.

Woodbridge is winning with its running game and a senior-less offensive line that has paved the way for 1,422 rushing yards in four games, 1,224 courtesy of seniors Andre Bratton and Derrick Holt. Junior Eric Buckenmeyer is perfect on 14 extra-point attempts and has kicked three field goals, with a long of 42 yards.

Of the two 3-1 teams, Woodbridge would seem to have the rockier road to the playoffs. Of its six remaining games, two are against Hylton; two are against Gar-Field, a team the Vikings have lost to 12 straight times; another is against the upstart Raiders and another is against Forest Park, which has a 4-3 all-time record against Woodbridge.

The Vikings, who host Hylton on Saturday night, have not shown much offensive diversity, completing only 12 passes for 134 yards.

"We can't change what we do because we're playing certain teams," King said. "You just have to hope you outplay them, just like I'm sure they hope they outplay us. We're not making any special changes [for Hylton]. We're going to match up and go with what we can do, and stop it if you can."

Chris Garrett, with ball, has helped Stonewall Jackson to wins in three of its first four games. Not that Coach Loren Johnson is impressed. "I told the kids today we were the worst 3-1 team in America," he said.After a few down years, Woodbridge is 3-1 thanks to players like lineman Kingsley Wiafe, shown here pressuring the Osbourn Park quarterback.