The past few months, Madison's Chuck Sell and Gonzaga's Mark Gowin have spent many a night talking to themselves.
The two coaches came within seconds of winning their respective league championships in 1982 and now are faced with the task of rebuilding their teams.
Last season, Gonzaga had its best record (8-3) in nearly 20 years, although it lost to De Matha, 21-14, in a playoff for the Metro Conference title.
Madison had a seven-game winning streak broken and lost a berth in the Virginia AAA Northern Region final when it was beaten, 19-16, by T.C. Williams in a rainstorm.
"I lost 19 starters from that team," Sell said, "and only six kids, including the three returning players, on the whole team have ever played a play from scrimmage in a varsity game. When you're faced with that kind of rebuilding job, you think about quitting or going into the newspaper business. At least you guys don't have to worry about replacing anyone; you just find another school to write about."
The Warhawks shocked Sell, his coaching staff and a highly regarded West Springfield team last week, pulling off a 19-18 upset in their season opener.
"I was very, very surprised," Sell said. "The kids didn't know they were supposed to lose. They didn't know any better. This one was a great confidence booster, but things don't get any better."
Madison will get another challenge against bigger Oakton (1-0) at 8 tonight in Vienna.
Gonzaga, which lost 14 starters, will get its first test today when it is home against Wilson in a nonleague game at 3:30 p.m. today.
"We just have to lean on the run," Gowin said. "We don't want to lose too many early and get a defeatist attitude. We have to go out and play our best every game because we're so young at so many positions.
"We had all these new ideas of what we wanted to do, but we changed quick, went back to basics and slowed things way, way down. Fortunately, we've had good freshmen and junior varsity teams the last two years and some of those players will help us."
The one player Gowin hopes will mature quickly is sophomore quarterback Gary McIntosh. Running backs Kevin White and Marcus Cherry will also have to contribute early because they are starting in place of injured Scott McCaleb and Jimmy Howell.
Wilson, a 35-0 loser to Gonzaga last year, lost its opener to St. John's, 7-0, last week. But Gowin said he was impressed with Wilson's strength and speed.
"They gave up an early touchdown to St. John's, then played very well on defense," Gowin said. "And they're physical. We're just hoping to get by these first couple of games until the kids gain some experience."
Among games tonight matching unbeaten teams, Stuart will play at Hayfield, Mount Vernon will be at Robinson, Fort Hunt will travel to W.T. Woodson and Annandale will play at Wakefield in a Potomac District game.