Citing a desire to be closer to his Sterling Park home and eventually teach and coach his own children, Park View football coach Mickey Thompson will leave the school at the end of this academic year to take the same position at Stone Bridge, a new high school opening next fall in Ashburn.

Thompson, who led Park View to the Virginia Group AA Division 4 championship game this year, posted a 74-39 record in his 10 years as the Patriots' head coach, including a 23-3 mark the past two seasons employing the single-wing offense.

Two weeks ago, Thompson had agreed to become a member of the Stone Bridge faculty and teach physical education and health. He was not formally extended the offer to coach until yesterday.

"I fluctuated back and forth [on the decision] for a while," said Thompson, who referred to his tenure at Park View as a "coaching paradise." "But it came down to where I realized I live in that community, the thought of starting a new program was intriguing, and I needed a shot in the arm."

Thompson said he will continue to use the single-wing at Stone Bridge, which will not have seniors graduating until the 2000-01 school year.

"As far as the athletes are concerned and the relationships I've made, I'll be leaving something really special," he said. "But opportunities like this don't come along every year."

Thompson's hiring seemed almost inevitable once Stone Bridge named Jim Person its principal and Dave Hembach its athletic director. Both held the same positions at Park View before leaving prior to this school year, and were close with Thompson.

"[Mickey and I] came to Park View at the same time [1986] so we're good friends," Hembach said. "But getting a coach of the caliber like Mickey gives your program immediate credibility. The kids are going to come in and be excited to play for him."

Thompson said when he informed his players of his decision, their initial reaction was "difficult."

"They respected my decision," Thompson said, "but their reactions ranged anywhere from disappointment to anger."

The emotions may have led to rumblings that several key Park View players might transfer, including junior quarterback-defensive back Nick Smith, the Division 4 player of the year.

"I'm going to finish up there [at Park View]," said Smith, who also stars on the Patriots' basketball and baseball teams. "When we first heard about it, a lot of teammates and I mentioned we might [transfer]. But then reality set in and we all realized that we'll probably get a good coach here. So we want to stick together."

Thompson said he discouraged his players from transferring or any other rash decisions. Eleven Patriots starters return next season.

"I'd be really surprised if anybody does [transfer]," he said. "I think it would be a mistake if everybody doesn't stick together."

Hannigan Commits

Paul VI Catholic senior quarterback Collin Hannigan, one of the top passers in Northern Virginia, has committed to play next season for Temple University. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Hannigan threw for 1,605 yards and 16 touchdowns this season in leading the Panthers (9-3-1) to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title.