ANNAPOLIS, AUG. 22 -- When quarterback Alton Grizzard was becoming Virginia AAA player of the year at Green Run High School in 1986, the fellow who put the ball in his hands was Dave Lillefloren, no slouch himself as an all-Tidewater center.

Since both Grizzard and Lillefloren had career Navy men for fathers, it was no surprise that they elected to attend the Naval Academy, both majoring in mathematics. But they followed divergent paths on the football field for three seasons and when the Midshipmen face Richmond Sept. 8, it will mark their first joint appearance since those halcyon days in Virginia Beach.

Grizzard still is the do-everything quarterback, but Lillefloren will have a new role when he makes his varsity debut, as the starting right guard. It is a position he earned in spring practice and his claim on it was confirmed today when the 1989 starter, Carl Voss, underwent disk surgery and most likely will be sidelined for the season.

While Grizzard made immediate impact on the Navy program as a plebe in 1987, Lillefloren was detoured to the Naval Academy Prep School. Then, as a junior varsity player in his first two years here, he found himself shifted from center to guard.

"After plebe year, they needed guards and I was quick, so they put me there," said Lillefloren, now 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds. "I like it, because the guards pull while the center just stands up and blocks. Getting out, helping out, that's more fun than center."

It figures to be a lot more fun for Grizzard, Lillefloren and all the other Midshipmen this season, because Navy plans to throw frequently under Coach George Chaump. For three losing years under Elliot Uzelac, the Mids labored in a wishbone that usually saw the opposition breaking off the larger piece.

"Football is really fun again," Lillefloren said. "It's a different offense and it's more fun when you throw the ball more than just once a game."

On the other hand, the new offense has required different techniques and nobody is sure just how effective the drop-back pass blocking will be when the Mids shift to the unfamiliar aerial route.

"I have to work on pass protection," Lillefloren said. "We got into it in spring ball, but then we had a three-month break while we traveled all over the world and now we have a game in a few weeks.

"After three years of run blocking, we have to be ready to pass more and we want to be good at it. With the wishbone, you'd lean forward and push. Now we're oriented to the pass and pass protection is a lot different.

"Basically, this is the same offense and same formations we had in high school," he said. "I got help from the guards then, so I worked with {center} Bob {Friedman} in the spring and we got a lot done. We're working hard now too and I think we'll be ready. Everybody wants to make it go."

During the summer, Lillefloren lifted weights while following a varied schedule that included submarine, air, marine and sensitivity training -- "Of course I couldn't lift in a sub" -- and he was so anxious to get back to football practice that he and offensive tackle Greg Hlatky climbed the fence at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium the day before formal drills began. Independently, Grizzard led a larger group over the same fence at a different time.

"I'm really excited about it, because I'm finally getting a chance to play," Lillefloren said. "I kept my position all spring and I'm letting everything loose. I capitalized on Carl's predicament and I hope Carl comes back. But injuries are part of football and I've been waiting in the wings for quite a while now."

As a junior varsity lineman, Lillefloren practiced with the varsity and was the third guard for the Army game last fall, but did not get to play. What kept him going was the hope that the coaches would see him with the JV and give him a chance. But with the change in the staff, all his labors proved meaningless.

"I had played at NAPS, so playing against them with the JV was fun," Lillefloren said. "Nobody else watches the JV, but the coaches do. That got you motivated and you took pride in it. At least I was playing football, although of course I wanted to be on the varsity."

When it came to evaluating the talent that was on hand for the change of command in January, Chaump and his staff watched the film from previous years, but basically they were starting over.

"I looked at film, varsity and JV, but I didn't try to evaluate players from it," said Charlie Donnor, the offensive line coach. "It was a different offense and it wasn't a true key of what we needed. I watched the players in offseason conditioning and once spring drills started, I got a better idea of what they could do.

"The biggest thing is to learn to pass block in drop-back style. It takes a lot of repetition and that's what we've been concentrating on. Dave's a good football player and I'm not concerned about him picking it up. He's very intense, very aggressive, one of those kids who had to wait his turn."

Lillefloren's long wait is over. Now it remains to be seen whether he can be part of another breakthrough, Navy's first winning season since 1982.