Numerous teams will be challenging for scholastic soccer titles throughout Maryland, but in Prince George's AA competition, Bowie has few peers.
"We're the dominant force in the league, no question about it," said Bulldog Coach Lou Reck. "We have a good club program and we've been very successful. No one rolls over for us, and I like to think we're always one of the better teams."
Reck's competition agrees. "If you take Bowie out of our league, the rest of the teams are pretty even," said Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Robert Dredger. "Somehow, Bowie always seems to have more talent than anybody else."
The defending-state-champion Bulldogs, who have won two state titles since Reck came to the school four years ago, have seven starters returning from a team that finished 15-0 last year and was only scored upon twice.
Senior midfielder Chris Bragg, a second-team all-Met selection in 1982, is an excellent passer and will again be the team's playmaker. Winger Joey Hughes and forward Gavin Casey are the top scoring threats, and defenders Matt Tracey and David Corttail are the outside fullbacks. Goalkeepers Tony Mazey and Mike Fogarty are dependabale, but both lack experience.
Bowie's top competition will be Roosevelt, which finished 9-2 last year but graduated 14 players. The Raiders return sophomores Eddie Dovel, the team's leading scorer with eight goals, and midfielder Tom Bechtold. Sweeper Kevin Gonter, fullback Ken Theissen and goalkeeper Mike Devine are also veterans.
High Point, with midfielder Tony Abunasser and leading scorer Jean Nestor, and Parkdale, a surprise playoff team in 1982, will also challenge for the county title.
In the A League, Douglass, which returns five players from last year's regional playoff team, and Surrattsville are the top contenders.
Churchill, the Montgomery AA county champion the past three years, returns 14 players from a team that finished 13-2 and advanced to the state semifinals. Striker Bruce Murray, a member of the national youth team, scored seven goals and will team with Mike Murray up front.
Junior Adam Coonin (nine goals) anchors Churchill's midfield, and sweeper Steve Hauschild leads a veteran defense. Senior Gali Kende will start for the second straight year in goal.
Blair finished 4-8 last year, but graduated only three players and should challenge. Striker Kaituta Sakalya and midfielder Jose Serrano work well together and Baede Minasse is one the county's top defenders. Senior goalkeeper Ricardo Magliore is quick.
Whitman, led by defenders Evan O'Rourke and Peter Rhim, should improve upon last year's 8-6 record, and Seneca Valley could surprise. Bethesda-Chevy Chase lost most of the key players from its Class A state championship team and will find the going tough in its first season in the AA.
Walter Johnson, a 10-2 team a year ago, is quick and strong and should dominate the A League. Forwards Miteuka Munthali and Ronald Forline are proven scorers, and Foreline passes well. Richie Hermansen and Samana Zulu anchor the midfield, and defenders Matt Handy and Johnathan Bowles make the backline one of the league's best.
Kennedy graduated nine players from a 6-6 team, but returns standout midfielder Tommy Horn and Danny Rosensweig at sweeper. The Cavaliers will also look to sophomore Curtis Pride, a 26-goal scorer on the junior varsity, for offense. Northwood has several key players back from last year's playoff team, while Rockville, the county champion with an 11-1 record, returns only two starters.
Woodward, the Class B state champion with a 15-1 record in 1982, graduated nine starters but will again be the team to beat. The Wildcats will rely on junior striker George Maroulis, an all-Met selection as a freshman, and midfielders Italo Travez and Steve Gould. Senior Devin Shane leads the defense with Steve Kullback and Steve Benjamin, and veteran Rob Koenig will likely start in goal.
Magruder, in its first year in the B League, will challenge Woodward, as will Damascus, which has improved steadily since starting its program in 1980.
In Howard County, Oakland Mills' long reign as league champion may be over. The Scorpions lost four key players from a 9-2-2 squad, and are bringing forward Kevin Sloan and defender John Hardwick along slowly this season due to injuries. Goalkeeper Chris Attridge is still one of the best in the state, however, and Chris Weilminster has size and strength at forward.
Centennial returns almost every player and figures to contend for the Class B state title. All-Met midfielder Steve Dragisics is the team's playmaker, and Terry Nelson and Reid Storch are scorers. Eddie Conway anchors a veteran backline, but the team's goalkeeper has not been decided.
Wilde Lake easily won the Class C state title in 1982, and could challenge for the Howard County title again this year. Junior midfielder Todd Trimble and high-scoring forward Villa Senor are the key players.
Severna Park (13-3) lost to Bowie in the state final, but returns five players and should again dominate the Anne Arundel AA League. Husky striker Rodney Long scored 22 goals and is the school's all-time leading scorer, and midfielder Brad Murray and Mike McWilliams are experienced. Goalkeeper Chris Delpi leads a veteran defense.
Old Mill, behind all-Met forward Dave Wojciechowski, and Annapolis, despite seven sophomores on the varsity, will test the Falcons. Arundel returns nine-goal scorer Mike Thomas and an excellent defense.
In the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, league champion Thomas Stone graduated all but three starters but will still be a veteran team. Midfielder Robert Castro is the playmaker and one of five seniors who will start, and forward Ricky Shepard will carry the offense. Senior Matt Gagne returns at fullback and junior goalkeeper Brian Montgomery is agressive.
Lackey and Calvert are the top contenders, but both graduated key players and will lack experience and depth. Ryken and McDonough are also tough.