After placing second in the Virginia A High School Tournament in their first varsity season in 1989, Brentsville improved to take the title by a convincing 26 points last year. With state fourth-place finisher Darin Snoots returning to lead the way, coach Jim Bower is hoping that his Tigers can maintain their winning ways.

"We were very fortunate, but we've lost two of our top three players," said Bowers, admitting that such success is uncommon in a fledgling program. "But Snoots is back."

Snoots, a 3-handicap senior, has made steady improvement in his game over the past three years. He placed 10th in the state two years ago, and 19th when he qualified as a freshman after entering and almost winning the district tournament with a make-shift squad slapped together at the last minute. He is a two-time regional champion and one-time district winner.

"This year I'd like to help my team win all our matches, win the district and region again, and to finish at least second in the state," said Snoots when asked about his goals for the season.

So far he's right on track, shooting one-over-par in the first match of the season and finishing seventh out of a field of indivduals from 37 primarily AAA schools at the Quantico Invitational two weeks ago.

Beyond Snoots's play, however, the Tigers may have a little trouble.

"We're very competitive at the two through six positions," said Bower. "I'm hopeful they will develop. I'm trying to get three players in the 80s while Darin shoots in the 70s. Right now they are in the 90s."

Brentsville's main competition within the district should come from Central. Senior Frank Davis finished second in the state last year and is expected to once again provide an obstacle against Snoots's dominance with another outstanding Fall.

"He is one guy in the district I know I have competition with," said Snoots of his nemisis. "That's really what I think about when I go into these matches, but I would like it if he was thinking about me."

The Northwestern AA district figures to be a battle between Osbourn, Loudoun County, and Handley. The early favorite, though, has to be Osbourn.

The Eagles finished as runnersup in both the district and region last season, marking the first time in their history the team has gone on to the state tournament. They finished in eighth place (out of eight), but return their entire squad.

"We should be the number one team in the district. Either number one or number two," said Coach Bob Lake. "By what I know of right now, we should be one of the best teams in the region."

Osbourn will rely on the talents of junior David Jackson to lead the team. The 3-handicap Jackson finished at number two in the district last season, and, according to Lake, "{He} can flat out play."

Claiming that his number one player has the potential to shoot par and under par each time he plays, Lake has nothing but praise for Jackson.

"He is on top of his game," said the coach. "He's playing extremely well and could have a real bright future. He can go as far as he wants to go."

In addition to Jackson, Lake feels he has a complete arsenal, beginning with senior J.P. Guerrero who finished fourth in the district last year and ninth in the state. Senior Coley Ali has improved greatly from last year, earning a spot as the number two man on the roster, and, along with seniors Donny Buckingham and Brian Rodgers, was described by Lake as an integral part of the team.

Though the Eagles are undefeated so far this season (4-0), Lake is unhappy with the caliber golf his team has been playing.

"Jackson is carrying our team right now," he said. "We should be winning golf matches by 11 strokes or more against anybody we play. We are not playing that way right now, but we are winning."

Competition for the district title will come from Loudoun County and Handley. Osbourn has already beaten Loudoun County this season, but the Raiders knocked off Handley, the team Lake fears as his biggest threat.

Junior Mark Thill plays in the number one spot for the improved Loudoun County team, and senior Joe Surber is at number two. Coach John Brown feels his squad's depth could help alleviate a lack of experience.

In the Commonwealth District, James Wood looks to extend its streak of consecutive championships to three. The primary obstacles they face will be Fauquier (which already defeated the Colonials this season) and Stonewall Jackson. But coach Jerry Tingle is confident in his team's ability.

"I think we have a pretty good chance of repeating," he said. "We haven't played Stonewall yet and in the loss to Fauquier we didn't play particularly well."

Sophmore Greg Walker and his senior brother Travis are playing the top two spots for the Colonels, both shooting in the upper 70s. Tingle feels he has adequate depth to support the Walkers, with five player who can post quality scores.

Fauquier has a brother combination of its own in Jay and Adam Foley, who, along with Mike Talomie and Eric Levin, can regularly post scores in the lower 80s.

North Stafford senior Tripp Burton has been touted as one of the best individual players in the league, though the Wolverines are expected to remain somewhere in the middle of the pack this season.