Loudoun Valley Coach Bruce Sheppard said he feels like he's been playing catch-up since the announcement was made last spring that the Vikings would be moving out of the Virginia AA Dulles District and into the AAA National. One concern was figuring out how the move would work logistically -- the Vikings will rack up more than 350 miles round trip in only four district road games, starting tonight at Yorktown. Then there was the bigger issue of familiarizing himself with his new opponents.

One thing is certain: Sheppard said he has already seen more than he cares to of Yorktown junior tailback Max Milien.

"That boy's got some wheels," Sheppard said. "We can't let him get on the perimeter. We saw him time after time on film get to the corner and just outrun people. And it's not just his speed; he's agile and shifty, too. We've got to contain him, and we've got to tackle well in the open field, because he's the type of kid who can make you miss. He's the real deal."

Indeed, in a game that looks to be filled with talented runners -- all five of the primary ballcarriers in this game average more than five yards per carry -- the 6-foot, 195-pound Milien stands above the rest. For the second straight season his rushing average is holding in double digits. In only four games he has rushed 52 times for 531 yards and seven touchdowns, an average of 10.2 yards per attempt, and he has caught eight passes for 140 yards and two more scores.

Last season Milien, who played in only seven games because of injury, totaled just over 950 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground, averaging 11.3 yards per touch.

"The thing is, he's a kid that is still learning, too," said Yorktown Coach Bruce Hanson, whose team is 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the district. "But he's just so fast. He has this burst of speed that makes him special. You know he can go all the way any time he touches the ball."

The Patriots, who have also gotten substantial production from senior quarterback Kerby Long and senior fullback Steven Smith, are averaging 40 points in their first four victories. But they have yet to face a defense as stout as the Vikings.

Loudoun Valley (3-1, 1-0) boasts a strong linebacking corps in seniors Steven Harvey, Trevor Ikwild and Nathan Rathjen and junior Ryan Sheehan. The Vikings have already recorded two shutouts this season and are yielding just 5.8 points per game.

That fact left Hanson joking that he had a reason far greater than geography for objecting to the Vikings' arrival in the National District.

"First of all, even they have to admit it's sort of ludicrous they're playing in our district because of how far away they are," Hanson said of the Purcellville-based school. "But if we had to add someone, why'd they have to find a team that was so good?"

Yorktown players Steven Smith, left, Kerby Long, center, and Max Milien lead a powerful offense. Milien has rushed for 531 yards and seven touchdowns.