Picking the correct order of finish in the Metro Conference football league is becoming increasingly harder each fall.

"The Metro Conference is the NFC East of area high school football. It's really a tough league," said McNamara Coach Frank Neitzey, whose Mustangs (4-4-1) must challenge Gonzaga (7-2-1) and Carroll (7-3-1) as well as defending champion DeMatha (10-0).

Carroll rates a slight edge for the top spot. The Lions have 23 members of last year's second-place team returning.

"Our offense moves just like me, very slow," said Coach Maus Collins. "Up front, we have some kids, cocaptain Shawn Green, Fred Dillard and Richard Saunders, coming back at a fairly good size. The other cocaptain, quarterback Phillip Barnhill, is good and wide receiver Hank Jackson is as good as any of them (around the league)."

McNamara must find a way to score inside the 20. Quarterback Ron Brown and running backs Derwin Greggs and John McDaniels are standouts.

Gonzaga's hopes rest with senior quarterback Gary McIntosh. Running backs Kevin White and Scott Wollard will give the team power and speed. Senior wide receiver Steven Brown and counterpart Mike Hollis are quick targets.

DeMatha, the defending champion, will be hard pressed to repeat. Quarterback Chris Baucia, who threw for 16 touchdowns in his junior year, is back, along with tailback Greg Steds and defensive tackle Mike Flanagan.

Good Counsel will be led by split end-free safety Norris Haynes and quarterbacks Rob Zachariasiewicz and Mike Sheahin. Other key players are guard-defensive end Chris McMahon, nose guard-guard Larry Young, two-way tackle Steve Noyse and center-tackle Ted Abromovage.

Bishop O'Connell's Jake McInerney is probably the best kicker in the area, according to his coach, Jim Hayes.

Quarterback John Gutter must find a new target since all-Met running back Eric Metcalf has graduated. Linebackers Brian Render and Brian Lander are the only returnees.

St. John's new coach, Mike Liew, has quarterback Nick Manuel, who will depend on fullback Mike Sorvino to help the offense. Cornerback Clay Goldston will be a key if the secondary is going to stop opponents.

Ireton, a new Metro member, will play a nonconference schedule.