Generally known for its speed on the football field, Potomac will use that same brand of swiftness to hire a new football coach, Panthers Activities Director Bill Stearns said.

Fourth-year football coach Ben Stutler has been hired as activities director at Battlefield High School, replacing Dave Davis, who is leaving the first-year school to become track coach at new Stafford County school Mountain View.

The timing of the move could result in the immediate promotion of a Potomac assistant, although none has high school football head coaching experience.

Stearns said he planned to meet with any interested staff members by tomorrow and then will decide whether to appoint a new coach from within the program or post the job for a week or two to attract a wider range of applicants.

"We have a very tight timetable," Stearns said. "I think we have a talented team back and need to get going. I want to make it a quick transition."

"I think there's more than one person on staff who would be more than good for the position and be able to . . . carry on what we started," said Stutler, who as an assistant took over immediately after former coach Keith King left in 2001.

Stutler's teams went 25-18, with perhaps no win bigger than a 34-33 upset of No. 8 Hylton last season. In his first season, the Panthers reached the Northwestern Region Division 5 championship.

Returning standouts for the Panthers include guard-defensive lineman Chad Davis and receiver-defensive back Deante Steele, both two-way all-region picks. The Panthers' other returning all-district players are running back Vaughn Walker and defensive back Anthony Staples.

After four years as a founding member of the Cedar Run District, Potomac is rejoining the Cardinal this fall to compete against Forest Park, Freedom, Gar-Field, Hylton and Woodbridge.

Stutler said he had planned to coach a lot longer but "you don't know how many times opportunity is going to knock." Battlefield Principal Jack Parker was formerly principal at Potomac. Stutler's wife, Christine, taught math at Battlefield this year but will teach at Mountain View next year.

Battlefield enjoyed a successful inaugural year in terms of athletic participation. Unlike fellow first-year Prince William County school Freedom, which struggled to start programs, Battlefield fielded a varsity team in every sport but football and crew.

The Bobcats' girls' soccer team won the Cedar Run tournament and the girls' cross-country team won the district title. There were no seniors at either of the new schools this year.

"They've had success already as young as they are," Stutler said. "As far as the community and support, I don't even think it's been tapped. People in that area are hungry and want to support Battlefield and athletics, and over the course of time I look forward to it being real competitive, real successful."

Parker said: "We had a real good first year in terms of student participation." "I think any time you have the numbers participating, eventually the programs will evolve to be good programs."

Parker said Battlefield is projected to have about 1,700 students in 2005-'06, up about 600 from its first year.

STUTLER