THE PLACE TO BE

Teams: Friendly at Hylton.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Analysis: Friendly figured to struggle early with a young team. Instead, the Patriots, now ranked No. 20, struggled a lot, losing 35-0 at home to High Point in their season opener. Offensive coordinator Marcus Berry makes no excuses. "We kind of overlooked High Point," Berry said. After a strong week of practices, Berry promised a different attitude. "They are prepared now," he said. But Hylton Coach Bill Brown also thinks his team can improve on its opening performance. Second-ranked Hylton beat Petersburg, 19-15, on Aug. 27.

By the numbers: Hylton used a running back-by-committee approach to rush for 213 yards in its opener. ... David Malloy led Friendly with 12 tackles. The problem is, he's a defensive back, and many of those tackles were after significant gains. "That's a big problem," Berry said.

Notable: This is a matchup between the defending Maryland 3A champion and the Virginia AAA champion. "Any time you have those kinds of matchups, it adds a little bit to the hype of the game," Brown said. ... As might be expected, Brown downplayed Friendly's loss to High Point. "It was 12-0 in the middle of the third quarter, then a turnover broke the game open," he said.

Admission: $4.

Directions: Take I-395 South to I-95 south to Route 234 west. Follow Route 234 for 3.1 miles to Route 640 (Minneville Road). Turn right onto Route 640 and proceed three miles to Spriggs Road. Make a left onto Spriggs Road. Travel 1.5 miles to the school, which is on the right.

WEEKEND GAME PLANS

Oakton at Robinson Tonight, 7:30

A Game of Brotherly Love?

The Bendorf brothers renew their sibling coaching rivalry for the third year.

Oakton Coach Pete Bendorf faces brother Mark in what generally is the toughest game on both men's schedule from a coaching standpoint. Both coaches tell their teams not to worry about the guy on the other sideline.

"On that night we play, one of us is going to feel real bad, and what inevitably happens is the other one feels bad," Mark Bendorf said. "Two years ago, we beat them 49-0. I remember feeling sick in the fourth quarter, looking at the scoreboard. Then last year they broke our 16-game winning streak, and I felt even sicker."

His players didn't feel so hot, either. And since that streak-snapping loss, Robinson has been looking forward to this game. This is turning into a full-fledged rivalry, and not just a sibling rivalry.

It's also features some of the best players in the area: RB-DB Scott Sanden and lineman Robert Bennett of Robinson and QB Tom Ridley of Oakton.

HIGH POINT AT SUITLAND Friday, 3

Wait and See

Despite his team's 35-0 win at Friendly, High Point Coach Dale Castro isn't convinced he has a contender.

"That's a nice way to start the season, but it's only one game," he said.

Castro might be more optimistic if Suitland wasn't up next for his team. The Maryland 4A runners-up expect to compete for another title. But the season got off to a rocky (and thunderstorm-riddled) start when Suitland fell behind 14-0 to McNamara last week before the game was suspended.

Suitland Coach Nick Lynch knows his team will be tested.

"I told my coaches after seeing [High Point] play Friendly that they are like a machine," Lynch said. "They do everything well and they do it together."

WHEATON AT SPRING BROOK Tonight, 6:30

Practicing Patience at Wheaton

Wheaton Coach Lee Branthover has a team that could contend for a title. Unfortunately, it might be the 2001 title. Wheaton starts more sophomores (eight) than seniors (seven). That showed in a 23-20 loss to Paint Branch last week.

"I thought we played very poor fundamentally against Paint Branch," Branthover said. "They made plays to beat us, but we didn't do things we're capable of."

To make the offense easier for his young team to learn, Branthover cut down on the playbook. Last season Wheaton only had five running plays; Branthover has simplified the blocking schemes.

He also has simplified his message, calling for more effort.

"We have some younger guys in there that need to understand you don't stop until the whistle blows," he said. "If I'm saying this in the middle of October, we've completely had it. By the middle of the season we should be making plays."

FAUQUIER AT GAR-FIELD Tonight, 7:30

All Joking Aside

Fauquier Coach Tom Ferrell's game plan is unconventional, not to mention about as legal as a triple-forward pass.

"I hope we can get over there and slip the cleats off their shoes," Ferrell said. "They have so much speed and we really don't. If we don't control the line we could be in for a long night."

But Fauquier can control the line, even though it lacks size up front. The offensive line averages 205, but it's a nimble 205. And a pair of 260-pound defensive linemen, Shelton Bushrod and Brian Bland, will try to contain the run to allow Fauquier to concentrate on Gar-Field's speed outside.

"They have great athletes," Ferrell said. "One little mistake can cost you six points in a heartbeat. I expect them to air it out."

McNAMARA AT O'CONNELL Saturday, 1:30

Double Duty

McNamara will try to accomplish a rarity: winning one game in the middle of another. McNamara was beating No. 6 Suitland 14-0 last week when lightning forced the game to be suspended. It will resume Sept. 14.

In the meantime, McNamara will try to take care of O'Connell, which got to finish its 34-0 win over Ireton last week.

The teams have one thing in common: mass. These are two of the largest teams in the area, with multiple 250-plus-pounders on each side.