THE PLACE TO BE

Teams: Thomas Stone at La Plata

Kickoff: Warrior Stadium, tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Analysis: Thomas Stone and La Plata are both 2-0 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and 3-0 overall. Thomas Stone, which is coming off a 34-0 victory over Northern last Friday, held five teams -- including the Warriors -- to seven points or fewer in 1988. The Waldorf school has not lost to La Plata since 1995. "They kind of look like us," Thomas Stone Coach Rich Callahan said. "Talent-wise, we're pretty even." By the numbers: Senior All-Met Marcus Whalen, a 6-foot, 190 pound running back for Thomas Stone, leads the Washington area in rushing with 577 yards. In last week's victory over Northern, Whalen suffered a contusion on his left foot and carried the ball just 11 times for 78 yards. It marked the first time since the 1997 season Whalen did not score at least one touchdown in a game. Last season he gained 1,931 yards and had 22 touchdowns. "Naturally, we'll have an eyeball on him, but they have other weapons," La Plata Coach Joe Williams said. Titus Green of LaPlata has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his three games this season. Thomas Stone senior Mike Farland, a 6-foot, 215 pound LB/TE, will be one of the keys to containing Green. Farland had 14 tackles and two touchdown receptions in last week's 34-0 victory over Northern.

Notable: Whalen attended La Plata as a freshman. ... Last season, La Plata won its first three games but finished 5-5.

Admission: $3.

Directions: Take Pennsylvania Avenue or the Beltway to the Route 5 south exit. Follow Route 5 until it merges with Route 301 south. Pass through Waldorf into the town of White Plains. Turn left on to Washington Avenue. Make a left onto Rosewick Road, and follow it until it ends. Then turn right onto Radio Station Road. School is on the right.

WEEKEND GAME PLANS

WATKINS MILL AT GAITHERSBURG Saturday, 2

Gaining the Edge

Two of the three undefeated Montgomery County 4A teams match up this weekend. Fifth-ranked Gaithersburg (3-0, 3-0) has defeated winless Wootton, Whitman and Blair by a combined score of 128-8. Watkins Mill (3-0, 2-0), which is four miles away, has averaged 36.7 points in victories over Springbrook, Paint Branch and Quince Orchard.

"I really think Watkins Mill is one of the best teams in the county," Gaithersburg Coach John Harvill said. "They may be the best team we'll play all year."

Both schools like to run the ball. The Trojans will hand off to senior tailback Jay Colbert (28 carries, 297 yards), who led Montgomery County in rushing last season. Three seniors, Jackson Francois (35 carries, 225 yards), Chris Jews (29 carries, 195 yards) and B.J. Jacobs (18 carries, 145 yards) share the load for Watkins Mill.

HANDLEY AT LOUDOUN VALLEY Tonight, 7:30

Double Trouble?

Loudoun Valley (3-0, 1-0) running back Ben Cross (71 carries, 575 yards) will play tonight despite a sprained left ankle. But he will not be enough if the Vikings cannot stop Handley's two-pronged attack. Running back Adam Woods (49 carries, 320 yards) has rushed for eight touchdowns for Handley, and quarterback Lang Campbell has passed for 420 yards.

"Usually we only have to defend one thing, and now we're going to have to defend two," Loudoun Valley Coach Mike Barton said about tonight's AA Northwestern District opponent.

Handley (3-0), which has averaged 352 yards offensively and given up a stingy 115 yards a game in its three victories, will key defensively on Cross. "When you talk about value, you talk about him." Handley Coach Todd Hill said.

DOUGLASS AT FAIRMONT HEIGHTS Saturday, 1:30

Awed by Opponent

It would be an understatement to say Fairmont Heights Coach Ralph Paden was impressed by Douglass (3-0) after its 42-0 victory last week over Linganore.

"I've been coaching for 25 years, and this is the best Douglass team I've ever seen," Paden said about Saturday's Prince George's County nonleague opponent. "They played a near flawless game. I have a bad leg, and I could've gained 100 yards behind that [offensive] line."

Fairmont Heights (2-1) plans to neutralize that line and open holes for freshman running back Nathaniel Queen. Since sitting out the opener, Queen has rushed for 220 yards.

"He's got the poise of a senior, and he doesn't go down easily," Paden said.

McNAMARA AT GONZAGA Saturday, 1

Counting on Defense

Expect a low scoring defensive game between these Washington Catholic Athletic Conference teams. Eleventh-ranked Gonzaga (3-0-1, 1-0-1) has allowed only 14 points in four games and has two shutouts. Against McNamara (3-0, 1-0), which is ranked No. 20, opponents have scored eight points per game.

Gonzaga's defense is anchored by senior linebacker Steve Pavlick (6-0, 205), who has 27 tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery this season.