Most coaches abbor the thought of their players looking post opponents. They preach "one game at a time" and "on any given day we can lose."
The West Springfield players have ignored all the worn-out cliches and avoided that "given day" in waiting for tonight's Virginia AAA Northern District game against T.C. Williams.
"The coach (Jim Jensen) doesn't like us to think about future opponents but we did it anyway," said Spartan linebacker Tom Thomas. "We knew we would have to beat Williams."
The fifth-ranked Spartans, 3-0 in district play and 6-0 overall, are off to their best start in the 13-year history of the school. A victory over Williams, 2-0 in District play and 4-2 overall, would put West Springfield in an enviable position.
"No doubt this game is the most important one of the season for us." said Jensen. "Even if we lose to T.C., we're still in good shape. Williams has to play some good teams down the stretch."
Thomas and his teammates are not looking for any help from their District neighbors.
"We feel we can beat them. They have speed but we feel our speed can match theirs any day," said Thomas.
Led by quarterback Mark Florio and backs Danny Young (seven touch-downs). Jack Brooks (three scores) and Kent Richardson, West Spring-field has averaged just under 19 points per game.
Williams has always been a big-play team. The Titans seem to specialize in a long punt or kickoff return or run from scrimmage to pull out a win when defeat appears certain.
"They can play bad all game and beat you with one play. We have to be concerned with their speed," said Jensen, in his eighth year. "They have very good people at the skill posisions and we have to play good defense to stop them. We can't afford any break-downs."
Williams Coach Herman Bonne says his team still hasn't realized the wake or funeral is over from last week's 9-0 loss to Groveton.
"We're in bad shape.Half of our starters are banged up and we don't know what we'll do," said Boone. "We had a letdown against Groveton. Not making excuss, but we're hurting in too many key spots."
In other games, No. 1 Annandale (6-0) hosts Stuart (5-1), sixth-ranked Mount Vernon (6-0) takes on 17th-ranked Fairfax (5-1) and Spingara (22-1) entertains 12th-ranked McKinley (5-0).
McKinley, under first-year Coach Mac Brown, has ridden the passing combination of Kenny Wright to Tracy Singleton to five straight triumphs, the school's best start to almost a decade.
Singleton, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound split end, has scored nine touchdowns, mostly on long passes. The senior also returns punts and kickoffs for the Trainers.
"We try to get him the ball as much as possible," said Brown. "He has deceptive speed, was a high jumper on the track team and has the good hands. He is tough to stop."
Spingarn has yielded only seven points but the offense has yet to score. The Green Wave has lost two games in overtime while claiming two wins on a field goal and a blocked punt for a score.