It would be hard for a player to become bored at a Quantico High School football practice. Not too many minutes pass on any afternoon before Coach Gene Leonard loosens things up with a good line.
(Looking for a player to fill a spot during a practice play): "Where's Bob? I'd like for you to start it out Bob, if you don't mind. You do start, don't you?"
To the team in general: "I want you guys to hit 'em where they've been. Give me a macho man. What are you doing, practicing for the senior prom?"
(About a player who missed a tackle): "He's done, stick a fork in him."
(To the team): "I don't want any lookers on Friday. I don't want anybody standing on the field saying (waving), 'Hey Mom, how do I look? Ain't I pretty? Do you like my socks?'"
(To a player who has hurt his arm while being tackled): "I had a guy who told me he once broke his arm in three places. I told him, 'Stay out of those places.'"
Explaining his philosophy, Leonard said: "Whatever we do should be fun. I refuse to allow a football-factory type atmosphere. I'm not trying to set a record for victories to promote a better job."
Leonard's position at the school, on a sprawling green section of the Marine base at Quantico, should be secure based on his past record. Quantico has not had a losing season since 1966.
"That year I had only 17 players," remembered Leonard. "The war in Vietnam was responsible for depleting the population of the base."
Leonard admitted one of his problems was continually because he never knows when a player's father - all the school's students must live on the base - will be assigned elsewhere.
"We don't have a tradition, a definite school that a kid knows all along he will attend because he lives in that area. A lot of these kids see 10 schools."
Twenty-seven players tried out for the squad, about a typical number, and two quit. "That's one of the few times we had guys drop off the team," said Leonard. "One found out he wouldn't play much; the other tried out just because his dad wanted him to."
It is impossible for the first-string offense to practice against the first-line defense become the 11 offensive starters also are the defensive starters.
Running back-linebacker Eugene Jones, playing his first season for the Devil Warriors after moving from Albany, Ga., likes the one-platoon system.
"I get pretty tired towards the end of the game but I enjoy playing both ways. At a bigger school, I would have blended in, but playing the whole game here may get me noticed enough to get a college scholarship."
Although Jones is the team's standout - the leading scorer who had had 15- and 18-tackle games as linebacker - the senior admits the student body takes little notice of accomplishment on the field.
"If five football players are standing in a group with five other guys, you wouldn't be able to tell the players from the others by reactions of other students. They only notice a football player when he gets into some trouble."
And getting into mischief is apparently a difficult task on the base where, in Jone's opinion, "social life is pretty dead." The players have a 9:30 p.m. curfew on week nights during the season and before games, with a midnight deadline on weekends.
"We're going to have self-discipline and we're also going to have imposed discipline," said Leonard. "I had a player running 20 laps for breaking curfew. If he had refused, he would have had to turn in his equipment even though he is my only center."
Leonard added that parents do not put as much pressure on their sons to play as they did when the Marines had a base team. Intramural flag football replaced the tackle version several years ago, and the change has decreased the emphasis on Quantico High's program. Leonard also attributed an increase in pee-wee soccer teams that are replacing pee-wee football teams in interest among children on the base.
But Leonard, coaching for the 19th year at the school, is satisfied with his turnout for football.
"We have 100 boys in grades 9 to 12," he said. "The cross country team gets 15 to 20 and there is also a rifle team. So nearly half of those that could do come out for the team."
Quantico has an enrollment of 400, 220 of whom play sports according to Leonard, who is also the athletic director.
"We probably don't have any players at the skill positions who could do much at a bigger school," said Jones, who transferred from a school of 2,000. "But the coach must be doing something right with the team considering his part record. He won't jump on your case, but he lets you know when you're making a mistake. I guess he's about an equal blend of rant-and-rave and quiet."
Most of Leonard's rants have turned recently to raves as the Warriors made up for an 0-2 start (losing by an aggregate 62-12) by winning two of their next three. Only four lettermen returned from last year's 6-3 outfit, and one of the best players transferred.
"We were outclassed in a couple of our early games and lost on a bad bounce of the ball in one we should have had," said the coach. "But I think we've done well considering what we've to work with.
"It is hard to schedule comparable schools - that is schools with a similar enrollment, I would like to have 300 more students here to pick from. But I never feel any pressure to win.
"After we've played our final game this year, I want the players to be sorry the season is over."