How the Teams Stack Up

The Contenders

Leonardtown: The Raiders, who placed 10th in last year's Maryland 3A/4A tournament, return senior Patrick Chandler, who had the team's best score in the state tournament. They also return senior Kyle Shepherd and junior Landon Gentry.

St. Mary's Ryken: One of the best teams last year in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, the Knights return most players, with the notable exception of Eddie Bowie, who transferred to DeMatha. But the team is still in good shape, led by juniors Richie Bamber and Roger Welch, and seniors Howie Grube-O'Brien and John Green. The Knights are also deep: Junior Jaime Masciantonio, the team's No. 6 player last year, shot a 41 in Ryken's first match, a 157-175 win, good enough for third-best on the team.

Patuxent: The Panthers return most of their team, except for Calvert County champion Kevin Conlon, who graduated. Coach Karl Brungot said he has 10 golfers who could play for any other SMAC team. Senior Pat O'Meara, who usually shoots in the high 30s, leads the team.

Thomas Stone: The Cougars have an experienced top five that includes one senior, Joe Simpson, and four juniors. One junior, Sean Bannon, didn't play last season but is the Cougars' No. 2 player this year. Junior Shawn Krahling will be the team's No. 1.

Up-and-Coming Teams

La Plata: The Warriors have high hopes this season after placing third in last season's SMAC tournament. La Plata will be young, with freshmen Tim Deavers at No. 1 and Kyle Murray at No. 5. A sophomore, Kevin Pope, will be No. 2, while seniors Chris Garner (No. 4) and Tom Feeley (No. 3) also should contribute.

Northern: The Patriots have had just one losing season in their 13-year history, but it will be a challenge to stay above .500 this season. Northern has nine first-year golfers on its 11-player team. Returning players are seniors Steve Buck and Courtlynn Carr. Northern also adds senior Eric Brown, a transfer from Calvert, who averaged about 39 strokes per nine holes last season.

McDonough: The Rams won the Charles County tournament last year. Junior Gary Cofer, the No. 5 player last year, shot an 82 in that 18-hole tournament. The team also returns senior Brad Lackman and sophomore Tom Eicholtz.

Rebuilding Teams

Calvert: Two seniors, Travis Mister and Chris Williamson, have joined the Cavaliers, and freshman Ian Umphrey has shot in the low to mid-40s during the preseason. Junior Devin Chirinsky is the team's best returning golfer.

Great Mills: Senior Jeff Ervin is the team's best returning player and has started the season with good scores. Also contributing should be seniors Ryan Cecil and Charity Corrigan, who qualified for the state tournament last year. Junior Brandon Gronert shot a 42 in the team's opening match against Lackey.

Westlake: The Wolverines lost a strong group of seniors from last year's team. Coach Scott Sisolak will be counting on sophomore John Price and junior Adrien Brevig.

Chopticon: The Braves have one outstanding player, but after that there are questions. Senior C.J. Czosek was an All-Extra player last year, and played a lot over the summer. Several players, including sophomore Evan Roache and junior Jonathan Shapland, shot close to 40 during the preseason.

Players to Watch

C.J. Czosek, Chopticon: A first-team All-Extra selection last season, Czosek gained valuable experience playing in summer tournaments, including the Optimus series. He shot a two-day total of 156 to finish 11th in the state tournament last season, best among all SMAC participants.

Tim Deavers, La Plata: Warriors Coach Frazier Coleman said Deavers is "very consistent for a freshman." During the preseason, his scores usually were around 39. He also played in five Optimus series tournaments this summer. His brother, Warren, is a junior on the team.

Chris Harpley, Patuxent: This fall, Harpley gets a chance to step out of the shadow of 1998 Calvert County champion Kevin Conlon. Harpley, a senior, shot a 38 in Patuxent's season-opening match to lead his team to a 15-stroke victory over Northern.

Shawn Krahling, Thomas Stone: The junior will play in the No. 1 spot for the Cougars this year. He averaged 37.5 stokes per nine holes during the preseason, right where Coach Donnie Mayer said he expects him to shoot during the regular season.

Tom Eicholtz, McDonough: Last year as a freshman, Eicholtz qualified for the state tournament, where he shot a 190. At the SMAC tournament, he shot a team-low 83, six strokes off the lead.