Friendly High School has lost eight football games in the past two years and, for Coach Jim Crawford, who is among the deans of area coaches, eight was too many.

With an experienced offense and the return of longtime offensive coordinator Dick Knode, Crawford and his enthusiastic supporters can't help but envision a quick return to the top of the Prince George's AA league and the Maryland state playoffs.

The Patriots will get a good idea of just how good they are tonight when they play host to highly successful Annapolis at 7:30.

The game, which is the season opener for both teams, is one of more than 70 games this weekend as high school football gets into full swing.

Other big games include High Point playing at Archbishop Carroll at 5; Seneca Valley at Wheaton in a Montgomery County AA league game at 7:30; Oxon Hill at Gar-Field at 8; Stuart at West Potomac at 8.

Saturday's big games include Ballou at two-time defending Interhigh League champion Coolidge at 11 a.m.; Sherwood at Laurel at 1:30, and Paint Branch at Springbrook at 2.

Most coaches will insist one game won't tell all and that it is far too early to predict how their teams will do this year. But all want to see just how far their teams have progressed since practice began three weeks ago.

"We are playing a very good team early, but I love the competition," Crawford said. "Annapolis is 28-5 over the last three years and {Coach Al} Laramore has won a lot of games in his 20-plus years. This is a big challenge, but we plan to get after them."

A year ago, Friendly was 7-3 but didn't get after too many teams, scoring a total of just 113 points. The defense, always a strength, surrendered 116, the second consecutive year a Crawford-coached team allowed more points than it scored. In 1985, Friendly scored 66 points and allowed 101.

Quarterback John Ferrer, tailback Bobby Green, split end Mike Plater and tight end Brett Mobley and three members of last year's offensive line should help the Patriots score more points.

Another team that should be improved is Seneca Valley. Although the Screaming Eagles were 8-3 last season and made the playoffs (losing a first-round game to Oxon Hill, 40-8), they were not an explosive offensive team. Half of their victories were by eight points or fewer. Seneca Valley is small but tailbacks John Joppy and Ricky Davis, who combined for 10 touchdowns in 1986, are back. e.