Regis Austin carried the ball seven times in the first quarter, gaining 35 yards and looking like a powerful running back. He then spent the next three quarters standing on the sideline with a nice view of the action. Lorenzo Dixon played tailback in the second quarter, and Joel Ellerbe took over after halftime.

Welcome to the Gwynn Park backfield, where Coach Danny Hayes thinks he has three good tailbacks and playing time varies week to week.

The starter rotates each game, but how long that person plays and who takes his place, Ellerbe said, depends on "who is feeling good and staying the hottest. If you're looking good, they leave you in."

The players do not seem to mind waiting their turn, and it is difficult to argue with the results. Gwynn Park (7-0 overall and Prince George's 3A/2A) enters Saturday's game against Calvert Hall tied with Potomac for the league lead and on course for its fifth consecutive postseason appearance. The Yellow Jackets' 24-7 victory over Forestville last week was their closest game this season.

Austin, Dixon and Ellerbe have combined for 1,437 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. Quarterbacks Steve Floyd and Andrew Banks have totaled 13 touchdown passes, four each to Anthony Herbin and Quintin McCree and two to Rob Surratt. Phillip Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 340-pound junior, is a leader on the offensive and defensive lines. Defensive end Adrian Moten, a junior, "leads the team in everything," Hayes said, while the secondary is tough with Wilbert Brinson and Aaron Hicks.

"We're real deep on the bench," Hayes said. "All the playing time [the reserves] got at the beginning [of the season], it shows at the end."

Plenty to Play For

Its 17-game winning streak ended by a 31-21 loss to Good Counsel, DeMatha still can achieve its goals, Coach Bill McGregor said.

"You've lost a game, that's all you've done," McGregor said he told his players. "There is still a whole lot to play for. We still have a chance to get home-field advantage for the playoffs for the first-round game and we still have a chance to be [Washington Catholic Athletic Conference] champion.

"We still have a chance to do what we set out to do and that's to win a championship."

On Saturday, the Stags will try to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since a three-game losing streak in 1994 and, if history is an indication, expect the game to be one-sided. DeMatha has followed its past five regular season losses with lopsided victories -- an average margin of 35.8 points a game -- a scenario that does not seem too far-fetched this week considering DeMatha plays Paul VI Catholic (1-6).

"The big thing is our attitude," McGregor said. "We've lost a battle; we haven't lost a war. We've got 36 days left in the season [if the Stags advance to the WCAC title game] and we're going to make those 36 days really count; 36 days and five games."

A Bright Future

One season after challenging for the first playoff spot in school history, Surrattsville has struggled. Although the Hornets are out of contention for a league title or playoff berth, Coach Tom Green can see some positive signs, particularly as sophomore quarterback Andre Johnson gains experience.

With fullback Thomas Moore, one of two returning offensive starters, out for the entire season recuperating from shoulder surgery, Johnson has had to shoulder much of the responsibility for Surrattsville's offense. He has rushed for 535 yards and five touchdowns and passed for 442 yards and three touchdowns. Last week, in a 40-0 victory over Central, Johnson rushed for a career-high 174 yards and two touchdowns.

"He's going to be a very good option quarterback, but we're still young and making mistakes," Green said. "But it's okay. I'll take it. He's making fewer mistakes as a sophomore than Ricardo [Johnson, last season's quarterback as a senior, no relation] made as a junior. Next year, he will have the experience under his belt."

Teams Remember DuVal Player

Fairmont Heights and Crossland players gathered at midfield before their game last week to observe a moment of silence for David Butler, the DuVal sophomore linebacker who was killed in a car accident on the way home from practice Oct. 13.

The two teams broke the huddle by chanting "DuVal," then played a hard-fought game, with Germaine Hammond's 10-yard run in the second overtime lifting Fairmont Heights to a 14-6 win . It was the Hornets' second overtime victory this season, and with games remaining against winless DuVal and Central, Fairmont is in position for a .500 season.

Along with success on the field, first-year coach Stefan Gansert is trying to teach his players lessons about life away from the game. Gansert, a full-time professional firefighter, was among those responding to the call after the accident that killed Butler.

"I talk to them every day about life," Gansert said. "Every time I run an incident, I always bring it back to them and talk about life. You never know what might happen to you. I had just left football practice and was coming down [Route 704] when I ran that call. I live both worlds. One moment I'm coaching football, the next I'm transporting a 15-year-old kid to the hospital."

Strength in numbers: Gwynn Park uses two quarterbacks and three running backs, and here gets tackles from Adrian Moten, center, and Justin Austin.Gwynn Park's Quintin McCree makes one of his four touchdown catches this year. He is one of several weapons for the unbeaten Yellow Jackets.