9. FRIENDSHIP COLLEGIATE
2012 record: 8-3 (won DCSAA title 40-12 over Dunbar)
Notable returners: DB Jalen Tabor, RB Jonathan Haden, OT Quarvez Boulware, DB Ashton White, DB DaeJaun Funderburke
Notable losses: OT Derwin Gray, LB Yannic Ngakoue, LB Cavon Walker
Games to Watch: at Manatee, FL. (Sept. 13), Westlake (Oct. 4), Paramus Catholic N.J. (Nov. 2)
Overview: The Knights will play one of the most difficult schedules of any team in the area, but certainly have the talent to keep up. On offense, Friendship will be led by heavily recruited OL Quarvez Boulware, who will be pivotal in opening holes for Arizona-bound RB Jonathan Haden (1,100 yards in 2012). But the defense will be the strong suit of this squad, led by blue-chip DB recruit Jalen Tabor, as well as the heavily recruited junior cornerback Ashton White. Add senior safety Dae Juan Funderburke and DT Marquese Meadow to that mix, and the Knights are the favorite to repeat as DCSAA champions.
8. RIVER HILL
2012 Record: 14-0 (won 3A state title 18-14 against Huntingtown)
Notable returners: DE Logan Kirby, DE Anthony Corrao, LB/TE Cory Daniel
Notable losses: QB Austin Altman, HB/S Justin Arn, SB/LB Stephen Osong
Games to watch: at Atholton (Sept. 20), at Wilde Lake (Oct. 11), Reservoir (Nov. 8)
Overview: The Hawks have won the state championship four times in the past six years and are undefeated since 2011. Coach Brian van Deusen has proven to be skilled at adjusting his system based on player strengths and personnel from season to season. Five starters will return on each side and and the defense will have the most experience with returning ends Logan Kirby and Anthony Corrao. The loss of HB/S Justin Arn, HB/S Evan Griffin and SB/LB Stephan Osong – who accounted for 57 of the Hawks’ 86 touchdowns in 2012 – will require some rebuilding on offense. Senior Drew Pritchard will get his first starting season at QB after playing behind Austin Altman but is expected to transition smoothly to a starting role.
7. BRIAR WOODS
2012 record: 15-0 (won AA Division 4 state title 52-0 over Heritage-Lynchburg)
Notable returners: QB Trace McSorley, WR Brandon Polk, LB Chris Larco
Notable losses: RB Cory Colder, WR Devin Ramos, NT Trei Germany
Games to Watch: vs. Colonial Forge (Sept. 6), vs. Broad Run (Oct. 18), vs. Tuscarora (Nov. 8)
Overview: The Falcons are once again loaded on offense with the return of senior QB Trace McSorley (2,548 passing yards, 33 touchdowns) and the dynamic slot tandem of WRs Brandon Polk and Tristan Miller. Senior offensive linemen Jared Coker and Nick Merletti garnered all-state honors in 2012. On defense, Briar Woods returns six starters, including two-way standouts McSorley (safety) and Merletti (defensive end). The defending state champions, who move up to the new 5A classification this fall, will be tested in their non-league docket, which includes dates with Colonial Forge, Brooke Point, and North Stafford — all AAA playoff teams in 2012.
2012 record: 14-0 ( won Maryland Class 4A title with 12-7 win over Quince Orchard)
Notable returners: DB Marcus Allen, TE Micah Till, QB Isaiah Black
Notable losses: RB Chase Powell, DE Myles Humphrey, LB D’Angelo Niler
Games to Watch: vs. Douglass (Sept. 7), Duval (Sept. 13), at Suitland (Oct. 19)
Overview: Despite losing several major pieces from their 2012 state championship squad, the Pumas are still loaded with talent all over the field. Future Penn State Nittany Lion Marcus Allen is one of the region’s best defenders, and N.C. State-bound TE Micah Till caught 17 passes for eight touchdowns last year. The Pumas are a run-first team with a mobile, experienced quarterback in senior Isaiah Black, and should have more than enough firepower on both sides of the ball to contend for the 4A title again this season.