Once again, no boys soccer coaches want their teams to be considered the favorite in either Montgomery or Prince George's counties.

Case in point: Class AA state champion Bowie, which, according to Coach Lou Reck, lost half its starting team.

"So how could we be considered a favorite?" asked Reck.

When it comes to Bowie, however, as one coach pointed out, the number of starters lost is a relative figure since Reck platooned his starters last season. "He could lose half his team," it was suggested, "and still have an entire starting team to field."

Despite Reck's disclaimer, Bowie once again will be the team to beat in the Prince George's AA League, with Eleanor Roosevelt and Oxon Hill the best of the other contenders.

Bowie features senior Antonio Correa, the team's second-leading scorer last year, and junior Erik Imler, a member of the U.S. under-16 national team. Imler, a midfielder, is an excellent scorer who should get more playing time if Reck abandons his platoon system.

Bowie also will have a superb defense with senior fullbacks Rob Waldman, Dave Tidler and Eric Stallings. Sophomore Chris McNally at forward and Scott Wandzilaik in the midfield give Reck few reasons to platoon again.

Oxon Hill had a very deceptive season in 1986. Although the Clippers finished 5-7, five of those losses were by one goal and two were in overtime.

"Sometimes luck has a way of turning its bright face on a team that was jinxed," Laurel Coach Terry Parfitt said of the Clippers. "They outplayed a lot of teams that they lost to by one goal. That has a way of turning itself around the next year sometimes."

Mention that to Oxon Hill Coach Bill Jones, though, and he responds with, "We lost eight of 11 starters. Why do people think we'll do well?"

Although the Clippers have only three returning starters, they are all on defense. If Oxon Hill can score occasional goals, it should stay close in most games.

Junior Russell Boyce leads the defense along with senior Jim Meade. The offense includes juniors Marc Turgeon, Chuck Ogbuawa and Mike Tri who all are up from a junior varsity team that finished 9-2-1 last season.

Roosevelt is another young team. The Raiders are led by junior fullback Peter Thompson, who surprised many people last year including Coach George Kallas.

"He came out of the blue and shut down people continuously," said Kallas. "He held {Laurel All-Met} Ernie Scruggs to two shots the whole game."

Joining Thompson at fullback is junior Brian Fuller. They should make life easier for goalkeeper Steve Moore, who started last season as a freshman. Other top players for the Raiders include junior halfback Aaron Penn and freshman forward Billy Heiser.

At Northwestern, Coach Tom Stickles says the team "will survive." Northwestern lost 17 of 18 players from a team that, in Stickles' words "was miserable last year."

The Wildcats will field a small team led by senior midfielder Ede Bustillo.

In the Prince George's AB League, Laurel, which dropped from the AA League when schools were reclassified, is the clear favorite. DuVal, Surrattsville and Douglas should also be good, but can they be as good as the Spartans?

Laurel's offense will be carried by Scruggs, a forward who led the team with 15 goals and 12 assists last season. Also back is junior goalkeeper Robbie Mamula, who yielded just five goals last year. Senior fullback Kevin Vernon and junior midfielder Gil Lopez should give the Spartans enough strength to dominate the AB League.

Surrattsville, which advanced to the Class A state semifinals before losing, 2-1, to Towson, returns eight starters. Senior forward Denis O'Donovan and sweeperback Ed Vaden are the mainstays of the squad.

DuVal finished 6-7 last season, but won the Prince George's spring league. The Tigers are led by senior halfback Dino Peters and senior forward Charlie Kallas.

Douglass won the regular season AB title last year with an 11-1 record, but lost to Surrattsville in the regional championship. The Eagles are led by Adrian Lacey at halfback, senior fullback Micky Gray and senior fullback Joe Abood.

Montgomery County's AA League will again prove to be one of the toughest divisions in the area, which should make the league's top teams, Kennedy and Walter Johnson, two of the best in the state.

Kennedy is led by senior All-Met Brett Hofmann in the midfield. Hofmann, who is considered one of the top players in the state, is expected to have a banner year as major college scouts will be out in full force watching his every move.

Otis Grant is back at forward along with two natives of England, senior Stuart Warner from London and junior midfielder Nicholas Sheffield from Manchester. Senior fullback Mike DeMino and junior midfielder Jono Halverson will anchor the back line.

Walter Johnson may be unstoppable. In its first season since the school merged with Woodward, the renamed Wildcats now have two of the best players in the county in senior midfielder Carl Kulback and junior midfielder Dewan Bader. Senior forward Mike Williams, who led Walter Johnson in scoring with 12 goals, is also returning. And Coach Dave Kelley is expecting an outstanding year from senior goalie Jerry Irvine.

"Everyone has high expectations, but this is going to be a beginning year for us, so I don't know how we're going to do," said a low-key Kelley. "But we should do a little better than .500."

Kelley will kid few with that approach. Look for Walter Johnson to to be one of the two best teams in the county and a key contender in the postseason playoffs.

Churchill lost seven starters from its 9-2-3 squad, but the Bulldogs still have an abundance of talent.

Leading the returnees are senior midfielder Jim Hauschild, one of the leading scorers last year, and senior fullback Rick Goepfert. Seniors Eddie Enders at forward and Diego Rotsztian at midfield will give this team an edge in ball control.

Sherwood, which reached the state Class A championship the past two years {tying both games}, should easily win the Montgomery A League and be a state contender once again.

The Warriors return with seven starters including senior midfielder Derek McKelvey, who has controlled their attack the past two seasons. Senior midfielder Brian Bichy is a good one-on-one player who complements McKelvey well. Two other key returning seniors are sweeper Eddie Farrell and forward Johnny Samartzis.

Whitman, which finished 7-4-1 last season, has only three returning starters. George Hofheimer, a senior, has moved to striker from fullback to punch up the offense, but the Vikings should be a strong defensive unit.

Senior midfielder Bob Canter and sophomore fullback Kevin Beyer are back to protect a potentially strong duo who will be splitting time as goalkeepers. Chris Rowe and Jeff Ward are seniors coming off an undefeated junior varsity team along with junior midfielder Guiherme Barbose.

Last year, Rockville had to battle the pressure of being expected to win the state title. This year, the Rams, who came within one game of a state championship, will be able to relax and have some fun.

Although Rockville graduated 12 players, any team with the talent of junior midfielder Jeff Stroud and forward Eric McClellan cannot be discounted. Stroud, a junior and the brother of graduated All-Met midfielder John, will give this team a lot of needed experience.

Springbrook, which lost to Rockville on penalty kicks in the first round of the playoffs last season, appears one year away from being a championship contender, but the Blue Devils have one of the best teachers in Ian Bain and should be competitive. They are led by senior fullback Danny Nash, junior fullback Patt Gannon, senior fullback John Ashford and freshman David Sarano, who played on the national under-14 team.

Wootton, which finished 5-6-1 last season, will have trouble filling holes left by its graduated defenders, although among 13 returning lettermen is junior goalie Mike Gilman. With a senior midfield consisting of Matt Owings, Rafael Bobenreith and Ron Segal, the Patriots should be competitive, but will be hard-pressed to be more than a .500 team.

Seneca Valley, 4-8 last season, has little depth and will consider a .500 season a success. Senior sweeper Jeff Bogushefsky, who has played every game the last three years, leads the team.

B-CC comes off its first losing season (4-7) in Coach Gene Hostetler's seven years at the school. This year appears to be the same despite a strong midfield of seniors Brooke Miller and Larry MacKay and junior Werner Dabach.