The Commonwealth District is in a year of transition as several teams lost many players to graduation. With all the new looks, the team that jells the quickest will be the team to beat come playoff time. Stonewall Jackson, one of the few teams not rebuilding, could be the favorite and Gar-Field returns perhaps the district's best player in Kenny Scroggins. Courtland
New coach Gene Kotulka has been asked to rebuild a program that has struggled recently, including a 1-19 mark last season. Kotulka comes to Courtland after nine years at King George High and hopes to have the Cougars playing an up tempo, pressure game.
It won't be easy. No one returns from last year's team and inexperience will hamper the Cougars' progress. Opponents can expect Courtland to play a man-to-man defense and make up with hustle what the Cougars may lack in talent. Fauquier
The Falcons (23-2) lost most of their 1986 district championship team to graduation, and the success of this year's football team has delayed the appearance of their top returning player, Carlton Raymond.
Raymond, a 5-10 guard, averaged 10 points per game last season and will be asked to carry a much bigger load offensively with the loss of Ed Robertson, Major Warner, and Paul Frye. The threesome averaged over 40 points in 1986.
Newcomers Skip Walker (6-0, junior) and Felton Worrell (6-2, senior) will play a big part in the Falcons fastbreaking game. But with the lack of veteran players, Fauquier's success depends largely on how quickly Walker, Robertson and the rest of the inexperienced Falcons develop. Gar-Field
The Indians (16-6) are another Commonwealth team stung by graduation. Leading scorers and rebounders, William Jackson (23 ppg, 15 rpg) and 6-8 Curtis Johnson (18 ppg, nine rpg) are gone and coach Larry Bell is searching for someone to pick up the slack.
In contrast to last year, the Indians' strength comes from the outside this season. Jamel Perkins, a 5-10 guard, returns hoping to improve on his nine-point average and he'll be joined by Keith Alverez (6-1, junior) and Skip Saunders (5-6, sophomore) as Gar-Field's success will depend on its backcourt.
Scroggins, a 6-7 junior who averaged 12 points per game last season, is considered one of the top players in the district by many coaches and will provide the inside play necessary to allow the outside shooters to get open. Stonewall Jackson
The Raiders (8-14) return seven of their top eight players of a year ago, including 6-5 senior center Peter Giorgio, a second-team all-District selection last season. Giorgio averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds in 1986.
Joining Giorgio are veterans Tim Brown (6-2, junior guard) and Carroll Walker (5-8, junior guard). Brown can score (10 ppg) and Walker can pass (seven ppg, four apg) giving the Raiders an outstanding combinaton of inside and outside play.
Stonewall plans to run and pick up easy baskets in the transition game. When they are forced to set up, look for Brown and Walker to take advantage of the new three-point shot. North Stafford
The Wolverines (9-13) return six lettermen and expect to be improved from a year ago. Willie Johnson, a 6-1 junior guard, averaged 15 points per game last season and joins Eric Menke (nine ppg, four apg) in the backcourt.
Returner Joe Zitz, a 6-5 center and juniors Geoff Hannan (6-3) and Mike Andre (6-2) give North Stafford a little size up front and they will be asked to carry a big load on the boards. If the Wolverines can rebound, they have the shooting and quickness to be a force.
North Stafford's depth is an advantage as they plan a man-to-man, pressure attack. But coach Mike Trant is emphasizing rebounding as the key to the Wolverines fortunes. Osbourn Park
The Yellow Jackets (13-9) will be taller than last year, and they will have their three best ballhandlers back. Guards Robert Jackson (18 ppg) and Jimmy Craig are back, and so is 5-11 forward Tracy Porter.
The big news is 6-9 junior David Robertson, who has grown six inches in the last year and a half. He played some as a reserve last year, but will be counted on for quality minutes along with 6-4 junior Chuck Robinson.
Coach Dave Hoge's club lost two tremendous defensive players in Kevin Bowens and Burt Sullivan at the post. The development of the junior post players is crucial if they are to climb into the top half of the league. Potomac
Only three players return from last year's team but Bob Lund, a 6-6 center, and 6-4 1/2 Ron Keyes are two of the best players in the district. The Panthers (16-5) will go as far as the two seniors can carry them because the rest of the squad is inexperienced.
Shawn Jenkins, a junior guard, and three sophomores -- Michael Wardlaw (6-0), B.J. Hawkins (6-3) and Shawn Wright (6-2) will see considerable time and how quickly they develop will determine how soon the Panthers become a factor.
Coach Kendall Hayes will have to find some offense as his six graduated players of a year ago took 57 points per game with them. Stafford
Stafford (8-13) lost its top six players of a year ago and will be small as well as inexperienced. Seniors Billy Greer (5-11), Chris Payton (5-10) and Greg Spruill (5-6), part-time players last season, return as the only veterans along with 11 juniors.
What the Indians lack in size they hope to make up in quickness and outside shooting ability. The three-point shot could become the key to their offense. Defensively, Stafford will show several different looks hoping to confuse opponents. James Wood
The Colonials (7-13) are hoping to finish above .500 this season. However, the lack of experience could be responsible for a slow start.
Scott Taylor is the top returning player. Taylor, a 5-10 1/2 senior, averaged 12 points per game and was the Colonials second leading rebounder. Lee Ray, a 6-1 junior, can score from the forward spot. Newcomer Chris Marston averaged nine points per game on the junior varsity last year and at 6-5 should help the Colonials' inside game.
James Wood will have trouble in an up-tempo game and will have to slow things down to force a half-court approach. Woodbridge
The Vikings finished the season 4-17 a year ago and return only two players from that team. With so much inexperience coach Rusty Fortenberry has gone back to the basics stressing defense and ballhandling.
Opponents can look for man-to-man half-court pressure and full-court zone defenses. But, the Vikings will have to score to press and will rely on senior forwards Jay Brown (6-4) and Ben Luckett (6-2) to provide the offense. The duo averaged 12 and 15 points, respectively.
However, Fortenberry must find players to complement the two veterans as inexperience and lack of depth have proven to be a deadly combination in the past.