Top-ranked West Springfield, coming off an unimpressive 17-14 win over Chantilly, cannot afford to be sloppy tonight when it hosts Robinson in a Virginia AAA Northern District game at 8.

Usually sure-handed West Springfield, 3-0 in the district and 4-0 overall, fumbled away two punts deep in its territory and Chantilly converted both mistakes into touchdowns to throw a scare into the Spartans. Averaging just under 25 points per game going into last week's game, the Spartans had trouble getting into the end zone against Chantilly.

Robinson, 2-1 in the district and 2-2 overall, will be trying to rebound from a 9-7 loss to Annandale. Another district loss would not eliminate the Rams from title contention, since the five district teams meet each other twice, but Robinson Coach Ed Henry can throw the district into a mad scramble by upsetting West Springfield.

"This game is a necessity for us," Henry said. "Some coaches say, oh, it's early in the season so the game isn't important, but that's malarkey. We got to win.

"They're big and talented and I don't see anyone beating them, except us, unless they let up," Henry said. "They run the wishbone as good or better than any team around and their defense is a little different but it works."

Against the Spartan "Tennessee bubble defense," Henry says his team must throw to have a chance. Quarterback John Jett, who engineered Robinson's only touchdown drive last week against Annandale, will start in place of Rich Clark.

"Every team has to run some but there's no way we can just run all the time against them," Henry continued. "We got to pass."

West Springfield depends on its quick trio of linebackers -- T. J. Murray, David Spencer and Bill Harvey -- to stop the run as well as defend against the short pass.

Before giving up those two touchdowns last week, the Spartans had yielded only 13 points in whipping Annandale, T.C. Williams and Lake Braddock.

Robinson also has played fine defense. Except for two glaring errors in a 13-0 loss to Williams, the Rams have been practically invincible on defense.They thrashed Lake Braddock, 28-0, and Chantilly, 24-6, before their tough loss to Annandale last week.

"We stopped Annandale six times at the goal line on two different series before they got their one score," Henry said. "I can't ask our defense to play much better than that. We have the biggest team we've ever had but West Springfield is even bigger than we are. We've got to mix up everything against them. If we get stereo-typed, they'll nail us."

Unlike Henry, Theodore Roosevelt Coach Jim Tillerson is from the old school of "no championship is won in the first month of the season."

But even Tillerson must be breathing a sigh of relief after whipping chief Interhigh nemesis and West Division champion Dunbar, 12-6, last week, in the division opener for both teams.

The Rough Riders (3-1) visit Cardozo (1-3) today at 3:15 in a battle of division unbeatens.

Cardozo, a 24-0 winner over Wilson last week after three straight non-league losses, will have its hands full stopping the Roosevelt running tandem of William Redman and Lawrence Adkins and quarterback Dwight Singleton.