Whitman Coach Eric Wallich has yet to receive any condolences from opposing coaches, and he doesn't expect any flowers to show up at his doorstep in the near future. But few could covet the sort of schedule the Vikings have been given to begin the season.

The Vikings (1-2) -- who broke out with a 40-7 win over Wootton (1-2) on Friday -- opened up with undefeated Gaithersburg (3-0), then played second-ranked Damascus (3-0), will face No. 18 Quince Orchard (3-0) tomorrow, followed by reigning 3A champion Northwest before finally traveling to upstart Bethesda-Chevy Chase (3-0).

It's not his team's ability that concerns the first-year coach -- Whitman nearly beat Gaithersburg and was competitive against Damascus.

But there is the fear that the Vikings could fall out of the playoff hunt by virtue of a brutal schedule.

"It's difficult," Wallich said. "Unfortunately we're very young this year. It would have been nice to spread these games out a little bit to gain a little confidence and have some time to grow. I think we're a playoff-caliber team, I'm just worried that we might have dug such a hole -- it's tough to win eight games in a row in Montgomery County."

Wallich's immediate concern is Quince Orchard, which has thoroughly dispatched its opponents thus far in seemingly every facet of the game. So the Vikings will keep it simple and once again turn to bruising fullback Pat Lazear, who scored five touchdowns in the win over Wootton.

"The game plan is definitely to establish him," Wallich said. "We feel like the only way they are going to stop him is if they add some extra guys out there. And we feel like if they do that, it will open up some other areas like the play-action. You can't take everything away."

Trojans Return to Form

After failing to reach the playoffs last season for the first time since 1996, Gaithersburg set out to re-establish its place among the area's elite this season.

And although a 3-0 start has invoked visions of past success, Coach Kreg Kephart continues to belt out his familiar refrain that his team is a long way from realizing its potential.

He will point to the penalties that hurt them against Wootton and the two early turnovers against Magruder in an attempt to downplay the Trojans' impressive start.

The truth is, they won't be able to mask those issues when they travel to Northwest (2-1) tomorrow.

"Northwest is going to be the toughest game so far, even though Whitman looked pretty tough," Kephart said. "I'm glad I'm facing them now instead of Week 1, but I'd prefer not to face them at all. We're going to have our work cut out for us."

Against Northwest, which is coming off a 34-0 win over Walter Johnson on Friday, the Trojans will look to win the war of attrition, which they have done successfully in each of their games this season.

Gaithersburg has a rotation of four tailbacks -- Travis Puckett, Dan Atwood, Arius Adams and Sean Porter -- that is wearing down opposing defenses. The Trojans have put together at least a 70-yard drive in each of their first three games, including one to open the fourth quarter that sealed their win against Whitman.

"The thing about this group so far that I'm very proud of is there's no one looking to steal headlines," Kephart said. "No one is getting upset, looking for touches. If the team does well, they're all going to share the wealth. We don't have one guy carrying the load and to this point we haven't had any trouble with egos."

Whitman will count on running back Pat Lazear to be an offensive threat against Quince Orchard tomorrow. Lazear scored five touchdowns last Friday.