Normally, when two teams with a combined record of 2-3 match up in an early season game, it's nothing to get excited about. But when Herndon (1-1) travels to West Potomac (1-2) Friday night for a Virginia AAA contest, there will be more than just a football game to watch.

That's because Tommy Meier, Herndon's first-year coach, is the younger brother of West Potomac's sixth-year coach, Danny Meier. And one of Danny's assistants is another brother, Jamie. One look into the stands Friday will show this is truly a family affair.

"Jamie got married in April and all everybody in the family wanted to talk about was this game. They had to see this game," said Danny, 36. "I told Tommy we should play this down because one of us isn't going to be good company after it's over.

"I was really excited for him when he took the job at Herndon. It's a great situation. But I wasn't real pleased to have to play one another. I had been kind of dreading this week, but I've been surprised. I'm pretty pumped up."

"What comes to my mind first off is that growing up together, Danny, as older brother, was captain, referee and commissioner every time we played," said Tommy, 31, laughing. "He always changed the rules. But Friday there will be a set of refs there. I like my chances already . . . the odds are better than before."

Tommy, who used to be an assistant on the West Potomac staff, was the head man at George Mason High School for two years before accepting the Herndon post.

Last year, the Mustangs were 7-3 and a playoff club. Danny guided West Potomac to a 14-0 season and the school's first state football championship.

With their schools in different classifications and with no chance of meeting one another on the field, it was easy for each Meier to root for the other. It's still easy -- but for one fewer game a season.

"I was scouting them two weeks ago and Stuart scores. My heart sinks into my stomach," Danny said. "I was sick. We're a close-knit family and you can't help but root for your brother. But not Friday. After {Friday} I hopes he wins every single one. I love my brother dearly, but West Potomac needs a victory."

"We're very close but you do what you have to do as a football coach," said Tommy. "Knowing us, once the ball is kicked off, we'll get down to business. I know I'm going against my brother, but that feeling probably won't come back until after the game. Heck, once the game starts they're the opposition -- the enemy. We won't have time to think about feelings."

Both brothers feel Jamie, 33, has had a big impact on the Wolverines. Jamie has been Danny's assistant since the West Potomac program began in 1985.

"The unsung thing is Jamie," said Tommy. "He's an important part of Danny. Danny is always stacking the odds. It's like the two older brothers ganging up on the younger one."

"He {Jamie} might be the best coach of all of us," said Danny. "He's a tremendous coach and I'm lucky enough to have Jamie on my side this week, and darn happy, also. He's in the trenches as deep as I am this week. You know we have to go home on Thanksgiving and Christmas and we want to be on the bragging side, not the other side."

Despite their closeness, the brothers' football philosophies are very different. Danny has built one of the area's finest programs around a ball-control offense and outstanding defense. In three games this season, the Wolverines have allowed just two touchdowns.

Tommy, on the other hand, led George Mason to the playoffs last year with a more wide-open offense. Herndon has scored 54 points in its two games this season.

"My father is always talking about Tommy's wonderful passing attack and I'm tired of it," said Danny with a laugh. "So who will win? The defense-oriented, ball-control team or the wide-open, outscore-you team? We want to win just to quiet the old man."

With the hoopla surrounding the unique situation of brother coaches, it's easy to overlook the fact this is a big game. West Potomac, which in its first five years won 42 of 50 regular season games, has not lost more than three contests in any regular season. Herndon would like to build momentum heading into its Great Falls District schedule.

The coaches speak the same language when it comes to improvement. Herndon led, 23-14, in its opener, but fumbled on the Stuart 1-yard line with a chance to increase its lead. Stuart rallied to win, 29-23. The following week, the Hornets rebounded with a 31-7 victory over Oakton.

West Potomac lost its first two games by 7-0 scores, although Danny saw marked improvement in the second game. Last week, the Wolverines thrashed Stuart, 38-0.

They also agree they would like this series to end after next year, when the Virginia High School League's two-year schedule expires. Danny basically speaks for both when he says: "I wouldn't elect to do this on an annual basis. We'd just as soon not play each other in the future. Although we'd be glad to meet if it was in the playoffs."

And does one coach have an advantage over the other? Both seem to agree that Tommy has more intimate knowledge of West Potomac than Danny does of Herndon.

"I feel comfortable going against them," said Tommy. "I know more about them than they know about us. But whether that's worth any points on Friday . . . I don't know."

"The funny thing is he has to know us as well as anybody alive," said Danny. "And he's been scouting me since we ran plays in the backyard, so I won't beat him with any trick plays."