After 152 victories and six Maryland 4A football championships in his 16 years at Springbrook High School, Coach Bob Milloy decided at the beginning of this season it was time for a change -- not in scenery, but philosophy.

One might ask why a coach with such success would disdain the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Even Milloy, who despite his achievements has never been offered a college coaching position, admits today he is not sure.

"I just knew we were getting too hung up on X's and O's and I felt even last year {when Springbrook won a second straight state title}, we were guilty of overcoaching," said Milloy, whose career record is 152-29. "At one time, we had a defensive play for every formation. A man in motion, the I-Back, the H-Back, the shifts -- we had plays to stop them. It was just too much stuff going on out there. We were thinking too much, asking the kids to think too much. I said, 'Forget this. Let the kids use their athletic ability and just play.' "

Milloy and his staff have a slogan for their new strategy.

"We say, 'Let's Maus this.' Two of our assistants played for {Carroll High's longtime coach} Maus Collins, who believed in letting the kids win the game," Milloy said. "He believed in putting the best kids on the field and letting them play. Our kids like that. They are having fun and, although they have made mistakes and I'm not ready to call this a great team yet, they have come up with the big plays and found ways to win."

In beating Gaithersburg, 17-13, last weekend to improve to 6-0, No.1 Springbrook got another splendid effort from all-purpose senior Leonard Green (242 yards rushing, one touchdown) and converted a key fourth-down play to keep the winning drive alive late in the final period. On a broken play, quarterback Tony Sawyer scored the winning touchdown from a yard out.

Springbrook, which has the area's longest winning streak at 10 games, had 7-3 seasons in four of Milloy's first five years. Since then, none of his teams has lost more than two games in one year.

Springbrook won state championships in 1979, '80, '81, '85, '88 and '89. The Blue Devils were state runnersup in 1986 and '87. They have had two unbeaten seasons and have been ranked No. 1 in the area twice.

"I know people say being ranked first is a jinx and I'd rather not be up there right now," said Milloy, a math teacher. "Everyone gets motivated and wants to say they beat the area's number one-ranked team. . . .

"We had a lot of guys returning, but regardless of how many are back, you have to start from ground zero. It's hard keeping these guys' heads and feet on the ground. You can't overlook anyone and you have to convince them they might be 6-0, but they have four tough games to play."

Gaithersburg Coach John Harvill, whose teams, along with Fred Shepherd's Churchill teams, have played Springbrook as well as any over the years, said Milloy's squads are well prepared.

"They make the big plays and Bob is a hell of a coach," said Harvill, now in his 33rd year of coaching. "We had them with two minutes to play and they take the ball down and score. On fourth down, they got a first down on a pass play we worked on all week. Last year, they came up here and beat us on two flea-flickers. This year, they beat Seneca Valley on a flea-flicker. He gets good kids and knows what to do with them."

Springbrook's four remaining games won't be easy. Saturday, the Blue Devils play Kennedy (4-2). They finish with Paint Branch (3-3), Bethesda-Chevy Chase (5-1) and Churchill (5-1), all teams still hoping for playoff berths.

Led by Green (700 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns), Sawyer (eight touchdown passes), receiver Mike Gillespie (five touchdown receptions, two field goals), two-way end Tyrone Frazier and linemen Linwood Davis and All-Met John Kennedy, the Blue Devils have outscored their opponents, 191-47.

Green says this team is virtually a copy of last year's 11-2 team.

"Not much difference at all. We're small and we've got some new linemen, but we're quick and work hard every day," said Green, who also returns kicks and plays free safety. "We've made some mistakes. I know I've fumbled a few times but, luckily, got them back. People have told us we should win again, but you can't think wins -- you have to go out and beat people. Now we have to worry about the jinx of being ranked number one. Everyone wants to beat you, but I can't lie. It feels good to be on top."

Milloy points to the togetherness of his coaching staff as the major reason for the program's success. John Haberman, defensive coordinator, and Don Rushing, ends and specialty teams coach, have worked with Milloy for 21 and 20 years, respectively. Tom Crowell has been the offensive line and secondary coach for nine years. The other coaches are Jim Castonquay (head junior varsity coach and scout), Kirk Davis (academic counselor) and George Milwitt (junior varsity assistant).

"I know you hear it all the time, but this is a great staff who will not accept mediocrity," Milloy said. "They enjoy what they are doing and get along real well with the kids. And my brother-in-law Paul Stofflemyer has taped every game for me for 17 years. Think about that -- he has never missed a game. And all of our families meet after the games and go out for pizza and stuff, not so much to celebrate but just to get together. All of our little kids act as ball boys and water boys. When you put in all the time we do, you have to get everyone involved or you get divorced."