Football fate hasn't been kind to Gar-Field in the 13 years since it lost to Hampton in its only state final appearance. But this weekend the Indians return to the state championship game.

And so will Hampton, of course.

For the Crabbers are the most prolific team in Virginia high school history, having won 13 state titles. In fact, when they host the Indians for the Division 6 title Saturday at 1:30 p.m., it will be their eighth state championship opportunity since 1975. And Gar-Field (11-2) must first overcome the temptation to be awestruck by the Crabbers' legend.

"That's something we've been talking to {our team} about," said Coach Chuck White. "We're trying to avoid getting beat before the ballgame. And we've been saying that we're a team of destiny ourselves and {Hampton} better worry about how this team keeps coming up with ways to win ballgames."

The latest example of Gar-Field's seemingly blessed season came a week ago when the Indians trailed Highland Springs, 13-2, with nine minutes to play in the state semifinal game. Running back Latroy Askew, who gained 114 of Gar-Field's 118 yards, led the Indians on a 63-yard touchdown drive, which soon was followed by Alfred Toole's punt block that set up Matt Daly's 20-yard, game-tying field goal.

With 24 seconds left and White preparing for overtime, Askew picked off Jonas Grant's pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to propel the Indians to a 20-13 win and into the state final.

"I was looking at the play sheet for the overtime and I didn't see the interception. But if anybody on our team is going to make a play like that, it will be Latroy," said White.

Askew has rushed for 1,732 yards, including going over the 100-yard mark 11 times this season. In addition to his 23 offensive touchdowns, he has scored on defense and returned three kicks for scores. He is undaunted by Hampton's reputation.

"It helps motivate us. It will help us elevate our play," he said. "All the hype is good and their reputation is great, but they still have to win it on the football field."

Askew's latest heroics against were just more in a series that has rejuvenated Gar-Field, which was 2-8 a year ago and 11-28-1 in the previous four years.

Led by defensive standouts Brian Stanley and Jay Medina, the Indians have registered some impressive wins, opening the season with a 7-0 victory over third-ranked West Potomac, which plays this weekend for the Division 5 state title. The following week the Indians routed a McNamara team (31-13) that eventually won the Metro Conference championship and finished ranked second. The Indians then beat North Stafford to run its record to 3-0.

"Those {first two} wins were unbelievably big. It was probably the turning point for our program. But also the third game was big because we started 2-0 last year then went 0-8 in the league," said White. But the win over North Stafford was "when our team started believing in ourselves."

Gar-Field dropped its next game, 12-7, to the area's top-ranked team, Potomac, which hosts West Potomac for the Division 5 title Saturday. The Indians' other loss was in overtime to No. 19 Fauquier, which the Indians avenged in the Northwestern Region title game.

"We feel what we've accomplished is beyond our wildest dreams," said White. "We hope we can finish off a dream season this weekend."