THE PLACE TO BE

Teams: DeMatha at Dunbar

Kickoff: Dunbar High Stadium, Saturday, 1:30

Analysis: The way Dunbar Coach Craig Jefferies sees it, there is good news and bad news about this game, and the good news is irrelevant. The bad news is that a year ago DeMatha routed Dunbar, 43-14, and the fact that no starters return on offense for DeMatha does not matter to Jefferies. "Them losing guys is not going to make that much of a difference," Jefferies said. "They replaced them." But DeMatha's inexperience may tip the turnover scale back to Dunbar, or at least make it closer to even. Dunbar threw five interceptions in last year's game, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

By the numbers: Dunbar junior QB Josh Cribbs was 7 for 11 in a 28-24 victory over Carroll last Sunday . . . Senior fullback James Lynch, who has unofficially committed to Maryland, rushed for 126 yards on 17 carries. No. 7 Dunbar finished 11-2 last season . . . No. 2 DeMatha finished 12-0 last season to record its first unbeaten season this decade.

Notable: No. 2 DeMatha is the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference defending champion. The Hyattsville school has not lost a regular season game since 1996 and enters with a 12-game winning streak. Dunbar, the defending D.C. public school champion, has won 10 straight dating from 1998. The Crimson Tide figures to use at least seven offensive formations, including several three- and four-wide receiver sets.

Admission: $5, $3 for students with identification.

Directions: From downtown Washington, take New York Avenue east. Make a left on New Jersey Avenue. The school is two blocks north on the right side.

WEEKEND GAME PLANS

OXON HILL AT H.D. WOODSON

Saturday, 1

In With the New

H.D. Woodson Coach Greg Fuller makes his debut Saturday, replacing Bob Headen, who won an unprecedented eight D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championships. But if one of the teams on the field looks vastly different from last season, it will be the Warriors' opponent, Oxon Hill.

Entering his 16th season, Oxon Hill Coach Cliff Haskins is abandoning the Wing-T offense for the run-and-shoot. Haskins said he made the switch not because of overwhelming team speed but because it is his squad's only hope.

"We don't have anything," Haskins said. "I lost 27 kids. And I know [Fuller] has a powerhouse. I just hope they don't blow us out."

Giving a young team a new offense can make for an ugly transition, but Oxon Hill senior quarterback David Driggers may be able to give the team some stability. Haskins said his team is so short on linemen that a quick-passing attack was required.

"We're small and young," Haskins said. "We are just not a Wing-T team. We don't have the personnel."

PAUL VI AT ST. JOHN'S

Saturday, 11 a.m.

Coming on Strong

Paul VI Catholic is coming off a season-opening 28-13 victory over Good Counsel this past Friday, thanks to a 21-6 advantage in the second half. Still, Coach Wade Keel is irritated.

"We were lazy mentally," he said. "We didn't execute well in the first half. We were lethargic."

Keel was annoyed most by two fumbles and several missed blocking assignments. But his team made up for the miscues in the second half, especially with an eight-minute, fourth-quarter touchdown drive to secure the win. That was a rush-rush-rush drive, which is not necessarily indicative of how Paul VI Catholic plays.

"We are going to have balance," Keel said. "We have a great quarterback [Colin Hannigan] and we didn't even get a chance to uncork him."

BLAKE AT CALVERT

Tonight, 7

Stepping Up

Officially, Blake High of Silver Spring now has a varsity football team. Practically, Blake is not quite there yet.

After fielding a junior varsity team last season, Blake steps up to varsity without any seniors in the school. Twenty-seven juniors make up the bulk of the squad. That may be why the school is not treating the inaugural game as anything special.

"It's business as usual," Blake Athletic Director Butch Hilliard said. "There is a little bit more excitement. The kids are definitely more in tune. The overall mood is definitely more upbeat, more energized. We're trying to treat this as normal as possible."

"Normal" doesn't describe much about this Blake season, especially the Oct. 23 homecoming game against Einstein.

Homecoming? Isn't that a little odd?

"You mean the fact we don't have any kids actually coming home?" Hilliard asked. "No. It's pageantry. The fact kids (usually) return home from college is a small part of it."

By homecoming, Blake may have its first victory. But it will be tough to pick up against Calvert, expected to be one of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference's best teams.

LARGO AT URBANA

Tonight, 7

Getting Defensive

Urbana senior quarterback Zack Mills, who passed for more than 2,300 yards last season in leading the Frederick County school to the Maryland 2A championship, returns. Mills has unofficially committed to Penn State. He will try to pick apart one of the younger teams in the area, although there is some talent on defense. Not only is Largo inexperienced on the field, it also is inexperienced on the sidelines. This is coach Eric Wade's debut. Largo linebacker Carlos Watts (team leading 12 sacks last season) and defensive tackle Duane Frost (50 tackles) must get pressure on Mills early.

LOUDOUN VALLEY AT LOUDOUN COUNTY

Tonight, 7:30

Off on the Right Foot

Loudoun County Coach Pat McManus knew that the Raiders' inexperienced offense might have to depend on senior place kicker Cary Greenfield to put points on the board early in the season. But even McManus was surprised by what Greenfield did in Loudoun County's 29-7 victory over Jefferson County (W.Va.) in last week's season opener.

Greenfield made five field goals -- from 47, 44, 38, 33, and 25 yards -- against the Cougars, equaling the number he kicked during the 1998 season. Greenfield's performance tied him with 10 others for fifth among the top all-time performances nationally (the national record for most field goals in a game is nine, set in 1990 by Dominic Gutierrez of Albuquerque Menaul).

"I've never heard of a high school kid kicking that many field goals in a game," said McManus, who's in his ninth year as the Raiders' head coach. "Cary has been very consistent for us for three years."