Five months ago, the Virginia High School League declared Mount Vernon ineligible for any basketball championships this season for recruiting violations. Mount Vernon's accuser was T.C. Williams.

The two principals decided not to schedule basketball games between the schools until some of the ill feelings were soothed. "Oh, we plan to play T.C. again (in basketball) in the near future," said Mount Vernon Principal Thomas Hyer recently. "Right now, both Tony (Hanley, Williams principal) and I felt it was best to drop our games this year." Hyer didn't mention a possible football game against Williams because, then, it didn't seem likely.

But Williams upset then-top-ranked Madison, 19-16, in a region semifinal game last week, and Mount Vernon shocked Chantilly, 20-14, in overtime. So Mount Vernon (5-6) and Williams (8-1-2) will play for the region championship Saturday at W.T. Woodson at 1:30 p.m.

"I know, no one gave us a chance. But here we are," said Mount Vernon Coach Bruce Patrick, whose team is the only sub .500 team to play in the region final in 16 years.

"Some people may be concerned about the two schools playing and the kids certainly are aware of what happened. But I don't think it (the sanctions against Mount Vernon's basketball program) makes any difference to the football players. We're going after the region title, we're not trying to please a lot of other people."

Williams' first-year Coach Glenn Furman agreed. " . . . I said my No. 1 goal was to win a championship at T.C. Williams and we can do that," he said. "I can sense a bit of pressure from last year's basketball situation, but we're looking at this like the friendly rivalry it's always been."