In the fifth week of the high school football regular season, McDonough was routed by Northern, 39-0. In the third week, Annandale was beaten, 28-14, by T.C. Williams and in Week 6, Gar-Field fell, 13-7, in overtime to Fauquier.

But all of those regular season winners have turned in their football gear after once again meeting up with the losers. And McDonough, Annandale and Gar-Field are continuing their quests for state championships after gaining a full measure of revenge last weekend.

For McDonough, that 39-0 game was particularly difficult to swallow. "We left there like whipped dogs. It was a very embarrassing night for us," said Coach Larry Johnson.

But it certainly provided the Rams with extra motivation for last week's 10-7 Maryland Class 3A semifinal win.

"As we started to put things back together after the first game, we just wanted to put ourselves in a position to play them again," Johnson said. "Then everything fell into place -- we were in their bracket. It didn't take much to get the kids up for last week."

Northern got the Rams out of their game plan by racing to a 21-0 halftime lead in the first game. McDonough had some things it thought would work but couldn't use because of the score. Additionally, quarterback Ryan Gick missed the first game with an injury. He played in the rematch, and with a change on defense, that unit played much better.

"We were too passive on defense the first time," said Johnson. "We tried to stop every single play and you just can't do that. We wanted to just react and stop their best plays and go from there. Our defense played better than it had all season long."

Controversy provided Gar-Field with added incentive when the Indians defeated Fauquier, 14-7, last week to win the Virginia AAA Northwest Region Division 6 title.

"It was a devastating {regular season} loss for us -- we wanted to beat them as they had beaten us by 40 points the year before," said Gar-Field Coach Chuck White, whose team is 10-2 following a 2-8 campaign last year. "They scored first in overtime, and on fourth down for us, we thought we were in the end zone. As a matter of fact, when they unpiled, our kid was lying in the end zone.

"So we wanted to get back at Fauquier. We talked every week that, if we wanted to continue our mission, we needed to win each week and we would probably play them again."

Gar-Field made a slight adjustment on offense that may have been crucial.

"In the first half we used Latroy Askew as more of a decoy," White said of his running back who has rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 games. "We threw a little more and we ran our fullback a little more. Then in the second half we were more successful with Latroy because they were a little off balance."

Askew turned the game around with a 95-yard touchdown run that rattled the Falcons. They had a turnover on their next possession and the Indians drove for what proved to be the winning touchdown.

Annandale's high-powered offense was stymied by the rugged T.C. Williams defense in the Atoms' lone setback. But Annandale had little trouble shredding the Titans in last week's Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 6 title game. James Milliner rushed for more than 200 yards in the 27-6 win.

"Sure we learned from the first game," said Annandale's first-year coach Dick Adams. "We didn't think we played badly the first time but we made some big mistakes. We just wanted to come back and play better this time."

The Atoms did. Their defense, which gave up two long touchdown runs in the first meeting, allowed just 148 total yards. With Milliner running behind a confident line, the Atoms were able to reverse the first loss.

"It's not an advantage to lose the first time," Adams said. "You can't tell the kids that and you can't think like that. But it was an advantage that we scheduled good teams like T.C., Lake Braddock and Fauquier for our out-of-district games. Then, if you reach this level, you can be poised and collected, which we talk about all the time."

The rematch syndrome did not hold up everywhere in the AAA Virginia playoffs. West Potomac and Hayfield met for the second time in the Northern Region Division 5 championship game. Earlier, the Wolverines had beaten Hayfield, 14-7.

"It becomes more of a chess game because you have seen the team so recently," said West Potomac Coach Danny Meier, whose team won the rematch, 21-0. "The fact that the first one was close helped because we didn't have any complacency.

"The NFL faces rematches all the time but it's kind of unique in high school, but I would just as soon play somebody different each week. That's what makes football fun. You just have one shot."

McDonough, Gar-Field and Annandale, however, are still playing after getting a second shot. And they hope to continuing to make the most of the opportunities.