When first-year head coaches Dick Knode, Dick Adams and Dale Castro peek at the long list of achievements of the men they are replacing, no one would blame them for feeling downright intimidated.

Knode takes over for Jim Crawford, who compiled a 166-48-1 record, earned nine Maryland State playoff berths and won three state championships in 20 years at Friendly; Adams moves in at Annandale, where Bob Hardage was 198-61-3, won 12 Northern Virginia District, five region and three state titles in 24 years; and Castro steps in for John Voight, who was 200-140-2 with five Prince George's County titles in 31 years at High Point.

"I can sympathize with them. I understand what it means to replace someone who was very successful for a long time," said Tim Breslin, who succeeded Maus Collins at Archbishop Carroll after 30 years (242-48-3 and 14 Metro Conference crowns) in 1989. "The advice I would offer is: Don't change too many things too quickly. I know there is no reason to meddle with things that work. I think there is probably more pressure on me this year than last year {8-2}. The carryover effect said it was still Maus's team. This year it is more my team and I don't know if I'm comfortable yet."

All former assistants, the three new head coaches say the transition period has been tough but not unexpected. Wading through the paperwork, assuming more responsibility and running the show are the number one obstacles immediately facing Knode, Adams and Castro.

"If it was up to me, I would still be an assistant and Jim would be head coach," said Knode, 50, who also is athletic director and head track coach. "Had Jim decided to coach another year, it's possible we might have retired together. Everyone has asked me the big question: Why do you want to be a head coach after all those years? Well, I just answer them by saying, 'I've never been a head coach before so I'm going to try it.' I told the principal, 'This would be a year-to-year deal.' But, I'm very excited about it."

Since his duties include being athletic director, organizing the program and taking care of mounds of paperwork, making that crucial call on fourth and goal should not be a problem.

"In my job, I have been forced to make decisions," said Knode, in his 29th year in the Prince George's school system. "I really don't like cutting kids from the team. Maybe the turnout will be small and I'll have to keep everyone.

"This inventory is the hard part. Jim always took care of that. All of Jim's other assistants are still here so that is a big help. Jim is still around so we will talk. We won't change too many things: Stick with the basics and fundamentals."

Like most coaches, new or old, Knode knows there will be criticism of his play calling.

"I know the second-guessing will be there. Jim was very successful but there was still criticism," said Knode, who served mostly as offensive under Crawford. "If I don't win right away, I'm sure I'll hear it too. So nothing will be different. Jim lived in the community and used to get calls at home from parents after games. He told me I probably won't get many because I live in Anne Arundel County and that is long distance. And since I don't plan to move, my critics will have to get me at school."

Like Knode, Adams is not a stranger to his school's program. For openers, Adams played center three years for Hardage before going on to Richmond. He returned to coach in Fairfax before Hardage finally named him an assistant eight years ago.

"I knew Coach Hardage always wanted me at Annandale but at no time did I ever believe I'd succeed him," said Adams, 33. "For the past few years, Coach had hinted he was leaving soon and asked me if I would be interested in taking over. A few of the other assistants were leaving too, so I became very involved in the entire program to prepare myself.

"Coach Hardage was the master of the little things -- from the way we walked, talked, dressed, lined up for exercise, etc. I was taught that way and it stuck with me. Because he prepared us so well, we won a number of games despite not having superior talent."

Adams says he doesn't plan to be "another Coach Hardage" but will implement a number of his mentor's coaching philosophies.

"We will be very similiar to the old Annandale teams. I have a very young, energetic staff, including All-Mets Mark Cox, Jamie Carayannis and Marshall Jefferson, and we're going to work hard to preserve that Annandale tradition. If I do anything exactly like Coach, it is because of habit. But I'm a different individual. I can promise we will work hard and keep it fun."

Should things become too sticky, Adams says help is but a phone call away.

"I'll call Coach in a second. I've spoken to Coach a few times and we've talked a lot of football," Adams said. "Annandale will never leave him, he has a big stake in this school and he'll always be interested. And if I need help, I know he'll offer. I won't have any hesitation asking him."

For years, High Point followers saw Voight work miracles when all hope was lost. Voight, as much a creature of habit as he was at making impromptu decisions in critical situations, might think he is on foreign land when he watches the "New Eagles."

Castro is installing new offensive and defensive schemes, promising to showcase the talents of his more gifted players. A wide-open passing game, with the run-and-shoot and some option plays, along with the old Maryland University wide-tackle six defense, will be synonymous with High Point.

"I played at Maryland {once kicked 16 consecutive field goals} and Paul and Pete Glamp are two of my assistants, so you will see some Maryland things," Castro said. "I know if I had to start with only one or two assistants instead of the eight guys I have, this job would have been overwhelming. I know any head coach will tell you how hard it is to find good assistants."

Castro, an assistant five years at his former high school, Southern in Anne Arundel County, and the past four at DuVal, got many chances to see High Point.

"I know John was here 31 years and I don't see myself coaching 31 years, I can tell you that," said Castro, 30. "John was an amazing person. With all the work and responsibility that goes into this job, amazing he did it for so long.

Castro said he also doesn't expect much second-guessing, at least he hopes not.

"I try not to think about anything like that. John had his philosophy and he was successful. I have mine. This is something I've always wanted to do and I couldn't be in a better situation," he said. "High Point has a lot of advantages, good support, good kids, good facilities, and I work right next door {vocational counselor for a private company}. I was appointed in January and since then we have been monitoring kids' grades, set up SAT prep classes and doing paperwork. When you are an assistant, you can get to the field five minutes before practice starts and leave five minutes after it is over. A head coach has to open early, lock up late and handle everything else."

HIGH SCHOOL: Friendly.

THE CHALLENGE: Replacing Jim Crawford, who had a 166-48-1 record and won seven Maryland State playoff berths and three state championships in 20 years at Friendly.

HIGH SCHOOL: Annandale.

THE CHALLENGE: Replacing Bob Hardage, who had a 198-61-3 record and won 12 Northern Virginia District, five region and three state championships in 24 years at Annandale.

HIGH SCHOOL: High Point.

THE CHALLENGE: Installing new offensive and defensive schemes; replacing John Voight, who had a 200-140 record and won five Prince George's County titles in 31 years at High Point.