Every year since 1972, with one exception, the game between Gar-Field and Woodbridge either has decided the Virginia AAA Commonwealth District champion or earned the winner a berth in the state playoffs.

Tonight's 8 p.m. championship battle at Gar-Field will mark the first time top-ranked Gar-Field (5-0 in the district and 9-0 overall) and eighth-ranked Woodbridge (4-1, 8-1) have carried such impressive records, statistics and high rankings into their game since the classic 1974 game. In that one, both went in with 9-0 records and Woodbridge, with Russell Davis, defeated Gar-Field, with Dexter Green, 27-15.

Only in 1978, when Stonewall Jackson High won the title, did the Gar-Field-Woodbridge game not decide the championship.

"It's no accident we always schedule that game last," Bob Sherrill, Gar-Field's athletic director, said. "The game always means a title or some sort of playoff berth to one of the two teams."

Despite its success over the years, Gar-Field never has won 10 games in a season. Even in '77, when it lost to Hampton, 12-7, in the state final, Gar-Field won only nine games.

Offensively, Gar-Field probably is a little stronger. Tailback Joe Miller has rushed 1,400 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Quarterback, Marshall Trotter has thrown eight touchdown passes, five of them to end Warren Thompson. The Indians average 26.1 points, compared to the Vikings' 13.5. Gar-Field has done well defensively, allowing only 54 points.

"We have to contain Miller, but no one has done that yet," Coach Bill Holsclaw of Woodbridge said. "At the same time, we have to worry about Trotter and Thompson. We aren't very big, but we have a bunch of gutty kids. After that second game (Woodbridge lost to Potomac, 10-0), we didn't know where we stood. But things fell in place for us."

Madison (5-1 and 7-2) can win the Great Falls District title by beating visiting Marshall (2-4, 4-5). If Madison loses or ties, South Lakes (4-1-1, 7-1-1) could take the title by beating host Herndon.