Although he does not plan on protesting the decision of his team's 32-30 loss to Potomac School on Saturday, Avalon Coach Tad Shields yesterday stuck by his initial contention that a whistle had blown, and that it should have nullified the game-winning play.

With Potomac School trailing 30-26 with 6.8 seconds left, an Avalon player intercepted a pass in the end zone. The player then spiked the ball in celebration, and the Panthers' Riker Vermilye picked it up at the 5-yard line and ran it in for the winning score as time expired.

An Avalon tape of the final play revealed there was a whistle sound in the distance right before the player spiked the ball, though neither referee in view blew his whistle.

Avalon (2-6), a Bethesda-based independent school, is left with few options. Northern Virginia Football Officials Association Commissioner Dennis Hall expects to see the tape this week but said there is no provision allowing a team to protest the result. . . .

Manassas Park needed to thwart a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds Friday night at Clarke County to squeeze out a 27-26 victory and extend its overall winning streak to 21 games and its regular season winning streak to 31 games.

The Cougars (7-0, 2-0 Virginia A Bull Run District) lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions against Clarke County (3-4, 1-1), but that's not what most troubled Coach Jeff Lloyd.

"Last year I thought every time we took the field we played with great energy and a sense of urgency," said Lloyd, whose team won the Virginia A Division 2 state title in 2004. "I don't see that from our kids right now." . . .

Potomac Falls has won three straight games thanks to a single-wing formation that puts the ball directly in the hands of running back Jay Branom. He has rushed for 564 yards and five touchdowns in the wins and has passed for 110 yards and three more scores to help the Panthers move into first in the Virginia AA Dulles District.