High school football 2011: IAC

Favorite: St. Albans (9-1)

Two-time defending league champion lost 26 seniors from last season, but Coach Gary Schnell is happy with his returning players.

Contender: Landon (7-3)

Bears rely on several multi-sport standouts as they try to return to top of the league.

Dark horse: Bullis (6-4)

Bulldogs ended three-year league winless streak last year and return some of the league’s top offensive players.

Around the league

St. Albans returns its biggest offensive threat, RB-LB Arthur Jones, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior who rushed for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. All-league lineman Marquis Johnson also returns. “We’re a good mix of young and old,” Schnell said. . . . The league’s other front-runner in recent seasons, Landon, also turned over much of its roster this offseason. The Bears have some top-notch skill players, led by WRs Deion Wellington and Johnny Sharp, and basketball players Joe McDonald and Addison Sarter have joined the squad. Finding some offensive linemen and a new quarterback could be challenging. . . . The league is expected to be more balanced as Bullis tries to sustain its momentum off last season. RB Kevin Jones (1,648 yards rushing, 20 TDs), QB Kylor Bellistri and WR Nick Fields lead an offense that averaged 25.6 points last season. . . . Episcopal (3-5) brings back several skill players, including RB-LB Johnny Bond, WR-DB Austin deButts and QB Thomas Coker, as it tries to overcome a season full of the worst series of injuries that Mark Gowin has endured in his 37 years of coaching. … St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (1-8) has a new coach (Bernard Joseph) and some talented younger players as it attempts to bounce back from a one-win season. RB Darius Manora has been near the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of the past two seasons, part of a junior class that includes many of the Saints’ top players.

— Josh Barr

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