Favorite: Centreville (15-0)
The defending Virginia 6A state champions boast 15 returning starters and a slew of highly-touted Football Bowl Subdivision recruits as they kickoff their quest for a repeat. After putting together its best season in school history, Centreville enters the year as the area’s top team, thanks to loads of experienced talent on both sides of the ball. Explosive rushers A.J. Turner and Taylor Boose spur the offense, while cornerback Charles Tutt and lineman Jordan Brooks pace the defense. Joe Ferrick will step in at quarterback for the graduated Scott Walter, leading the Wildcats into their nationally televised season opener against a tough Gonzaga team on ESPNU.
Around the league: Westfield again reloads with plenty of depth and size in its efforts to better the Bulldogs’ region runner-up finish in each of the last three seasons. Tyler Thrasher-Walker is gone, but bruising rusher Evan Gray flashed his potential in the playoffs by totaling 269 yards in the last two games. Junior transfer Tyler Scanlon provides a big target for quarterback Mason Scoville. On defense, James Gibson’s ball-hawking skills and linebacker Jack Clancy’s physical play lead a unit that returns six starters. . . .
Chantilly’s offensive depth took a hit with the graduation of defensive back/wide receiver Raeshawn Smith and running back Deandre Harris. Still, the Chargers possess strength in their linebacker corps behind David Kerns and a stout defensive line featuring the nimble Joe Nucio. . . . While Oakton ’s roster is young, Coach Jason Rowley believes the Cougars have the talent necessary to round into form for a playoff push. Third-year starting linebacker David Allely will be looked to for leadership on a defense that is expected to be strong against the run. . . . Robinson and Herndon both have new, young coaches at the helm with strong running backs to build around. Rams Coach Scott Vossler will place the brunt of their rushing load on fleet-footed Marcus Denham, who will run behind the holes created by Josh Blaz. Meanwhile, Herndon Coach Jeremiah Davis inherits running back Lamik Bumbery, who rushed for a conference-high 1,378 yards last year.
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