H.D. Woodson High School's forfeiture of 10 football games this past season increased awareness throughout the Washington area of the problems of athletic eligibility and, yet, the forfeits go on.

The Quince Orchard boys basketball team has been forced to forfeit a game for the second straight season due to use of an ineligible player.

Woodson Coach Bob Headen was recently given a one-year suspension for allowing an overage player to suit up for the Warriors. It was the fourth time in a career filled with Interhigh League football and girls basketball championships that Headen was found to have used ineligible players.

In recent weeks, coaches, athletic directors, school administrators and county directors of physical education have said procedures are being tightened as a direct result of the Woodson situation.

"I think it woke up everybody in D.C., and in Maryland and Virginia," said McKinley Vice Principal Donald Wills, who is the final authority on eligibility at his school.

Bill Kyle, the Montgomery County co-supervisor of high school sports, said he was particularly bothered by Quince Orchard's violation because it repeated a similar violation and because it came in the wake of the Woodson incident.

Kyle said he will continue to investigate the Quince Orchard situation and hold further talks with Coach Ed Davis and Athletic Director Tom Kautz. Kyle said Montgomery County coaches have been reprimanded and had portions of their coaching stipends withheld for eligibility violations, and he did not rule out the possibility of further disciplinary action in this case.

"Sloppy would be a kind word for what happened," Kyle said of the Quince Orchard situation. "But I am very unhappy with it regardless of what happened and why."

Kautz said the forfeit could have been avoided. Coaches at the school repeatedly have been told to check on eligibility because the school is only three years old and most students have transferred from other high schools.

"It could have been checked earlier," Kautz said. "The coaches have instructions what to do, and everyone here had taken notice of the previous situations."

Most suburban school systems and many private schools have a distinct advantage over District public schools in checking eligibility because they are computerized. Coaches receive printouts before each season with eligibility information on athletes.

The District still relies on files of numerous paper forms, many of which must be resubmitted by athletes and their families every season. Sam Jones, athletic director for the Interhigh, said he hoped to have computerized checks available by fall 1991.

"I don't think any system is foolproof, but if I were the coach and I had any doubts, I would be in the school office checking the permanent record files," Jones said. "I think because of what happened {at Woodson}, people will change their ways. I know things have already tightened up with our basketball teams."

Quince Orchard forfeited a 68-56 season-opening victory over Westminster because reserve Brian Beard was ineligible. Last season Quince Orchard forfeited four games for using an ineligible player.

The computer does not provide information for some special cases. In the most recent Quince Orchard case, Beard played three seasons at Gaithersburg High when that school did not have a ninth grade. Under the rules, he was eligible for only three seasons, even after transferring to a school that had a ninth grade and could allow four varsity seasons. Since he was not overage, Beard thought he could play a fourth season.

Ineligible players usually surface at least once a year in Montgomery County, saud Kyle, adding that many of those situations, like both Quince Orchard incidents, could be avoided.

"If the computer makes a mistake, it usually is in favor of being safe," said Kyle. "But when a situation occurs, it is usually a matter of human error or a matter of someone not doing enough checking in special cases. We encourage every school to put up the {eligibility} rules for the kids to read. In our athletic handbook, the rules are so visible because the outcome can be so tragic."

Kautz said Quince Orchard did not receive eligibility computer files this year and most checking had to be done manually. Still, he said, the recent error could have been detected if the checking had been done earlier.

McKinley's Wills said District schools are supposed to follow a system in which the coach, an athletic counselor, the athletic director and the prinicipal -- or a delegate of the principal -- review the forms.

Headen has never disclosed to what extent he checked the eligibility of the student who was ruled ineligible after Eastern High lodged a protest. Headen did say he refused to accept from the student a copy of a birth certificate on which the year of birth was illegible. When given a second copy of a birth certificate, Headen forwarded the facts to the Interhigh office, which certified the athlete eligible wihout further investigation.

Only after the protest was it revealed that the athlete was too old to participate in the Interhigh.

In addition to problems with age or number of varsity seasons, recurring reasons for forfeits include failing to maintain academic minimums and attending schools in another jurisdiction for the purpose of playing sports.

Even the most meticulous administrators have been victims. Bruce Patrick, now the coordinator of Fairfax County high school sports, twice had to forfeit games when he was football coach at Mount Vernon.

In 1982, a transfer from Theodore Roosevelt had not attended school for a year before going to Mount Vernon.

"We just had no record of {the student dropping out} and then he started school again as a freshman," said Patrick. "After that happened, it was decided to check all similar cases in Fairfax and four more in the county were found that resulted in forfeits."

Patrick said Fairfax has tried to learn from each situation.

"Transfers must now have all information on their sheets," he said. "The bottom line is that every time we found something, we found a way either through checking, or with the computer, to try to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Coaches say they are paying attention to the downfall of others.

"I recall accepting copies of birth certificates from a few kids, and I probably should not have," said Anacostia football coach Willie Stewart. "I will never do it again. I will only accept the actual certificate with the official seal stamped on it."

In Prince George's County this fall, Eleanor Roosevelt forfeited an early season football game because of an ineligible player, but Chuck Brown, the county's supervisor of athletics, said the Woodson situation is the one that has really made schools more cognizant of potential problems.

Although every jurisdiction receives accusations of violations -- almost all by anonymous phone calls -- most violations are turned in by the schools themselves.

Kyle said "99.9 percent of the time {potential problems} are discovered before a game is played." The league directors think nearly all violations are unintended, although they believe it would be hard to to detect if a student or parent blatantly falsified documents, particularly when the student originally registers in the school system or when they transfer from an out-of-area school.

"You can never say it will not happen to you -- you just hope no one is trying to pull the wool over your eyes," said Brown. "I just think people are going to start being even more aware."

Private schools, which traditionally have fewer league rules to contend with concerning residency or minimum grades, also have taken note of the Woodson situation.

"There is no question there will be more double-checking, or {schools} will be more careful about hiding a kid," said DeMatha Principal John Moylan, who said there has not been an eligibility problem at the Hyattsville school in more than two decades.

"I hope it is not the latter, but there is an incredible desire to win at some places."