What's new and notable this football season.
* 1. DISTRICT SHUFFLE: Potomac has left the Cedar Run District to join Forest Park, Freedom, Gar-Field, Hylton and Woodbridge -- its natural geographic rivals -- in the Cardinal, the district in which it formerly played. Battlefield, Osbourn, Osbourn Park and Stonewall Jackson will be joined in the Cedar Run by Culpeper (formerly of the Commonwealth) and Fauquier (formerly of the AA Northwestern).
* 2. ONCE IS ENOUGH: Unlike the past four seasons, district teams will not play each other twice. Each team will play a five-game district schedule. That new flexibility has enabled schools to schedule teams from outside the area; four Richmond-area schools, for example, appear on local schedules. But some county matchups have been lost amid the new format, such as Woodbridge-Osbourn Park, Gar-Field-Stonewall and Battlefield-Freedom.
* 3. SHORT SUMMER: Teams used to be limited to a maximum of 20 practice days before their first games. Now they are allowed to start earlier -- Prince William set an Aug. 8 date as the earliest practice date -- so that teams that play early-season games do not have a practice advantage over teams that play their openers later.
* 4. CHANGE AT TOP: Woodbridge graduate Tony Lilly, who played in two Super Bowls for the Denver Broncos, is the new head coach at Potomac. The longtime Woodbridge assistant was on the Panthers' staff last year. Previous coach Ben Stutler is now activities director at Battlefield.
* 5. ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: Battlefield and Freedom will be playing their inaugural varsity seasons. As first-year schools in 2004, they each played junior varsity schedules (with the exception of two varsity games for Battlefield).
* 6. JUMP START: Gar-Field and defending Virginia A Division 2 champion Manassas Park (14-0 last year) both open Sept. 2, a week earlier than the other area schools. Three of Manassas Park's first four games are against AA schools.
* 7. TGIF: All varsity games are scheduled for Friday nights this season. In past years, Jewish holidays and SAT exams had resulted in games being played on Thursdays and Saturdays. This fall, the Jewish holidays fall in the middle of the week, and the Oct. 7 games will start an hour earlier, at 6:30, to accommodate the SATs scheduled for the next morning.
* 8. FOR STARTERS: One season opener, Hylton at Stonewall, is a rematch of last year's Northwestern Region Division 6 championship -- won by Hylton for the seventh straight time.
* 9. OLD SCHOOL: Hylton's nondistrict schedule will include Culpeper, the team that Bulldogs Coach Lou Sorrentino guided for 10 years and led to a Division 5 state title in 1999.
* 10. INTO THE FIRE: In successive weeks, Gar-Field (2-8 a year ago) will face Division 6 finalist Robinson (in a scrimmage); Varina, which went unbeaten last regular season to reach the Central Region playoffs for the 10th straight year; and North Stafford, the defending Division 5 state runner-up.
* 11. MEET THE NEIGHBORS: The two new out-of-county Cedar Run teams feature new coaches -- Greg Martz (Culpeper) and Greg Hatfield (Fauquier). Martz was an assistant at Culpeper, and Hatfield formerly was head coach at Central-Woodstock.
-- PRESTON WILLIAMS