Two-a-day practices have begun, the annual sign that the start of another high school football season is just around the corner.

To help get our readers ready, The Post takes a look at some of the top storylines for the upcoming football season in Montgomery County.

The Champs Are Back

1 Opponents may find a familiar look to defending Maryland 4A champion Damascus when the Hornets take the field this fall.

That's because most of the key parts to the school's first state title team are back this season. Fifteen starters return from last season's team (nine on defense, six on offense), including leading rusher Matt Reidy (1,727 yards, 25 touchdowns).

Reidy, an All-Met last season as a junior, rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the title game victory over Broadneck.

"It seems like we just left," veteran Damascus coach Dan Makosy said. "The kids are very excited this year and want to keep rolling. Everybody is back, bigger and stronger."

Replacing a Legend

2 For the first time in 17 years, Seneca Valley is preparing for a season without Terry Changuris.

One of the most successful coaches in Maryland history, Changuris retired after last season and left the coaching duties in the hands of Seneca Valley graduate and former Quince Orchard coach Fred Kim.

Obviously, Kim has big shoes to fill. Changuris compiled 158-31 record with the Screaming Eagles and won seven state titles. Kim posted winning records in each of his two seasons at Quince Orchard and enters his new gig with a career 11-8 mark.

Dynamic Duo

3 Among the many coaching changes this season, none has drawn quite as much attention as the new staff running Sherwood's program.

Sherwood tabbed Al Thomas, a Maryland Football Hall of Fame inductee who won a combined seven state titles with Seneca Valley and Damascus from 1974 to '83, to take over as head coach after veteran Tom Crowell retired last winter.

In April, Thomas named the recently retired Changuris as his offensive coordinator, bringing the state championship total 14 between the two coaches to 14.

"Who knows how those rookies at Sherwood will do?" Makosy joked.

Stacked Again

4 Northwest overtook Seneca Valley as the top Montgomery County 3A team last season but fell to Urbana in a first-round playoff game.

The Jaguars will find it tough to improve on last year's performance with Seneca Valley on their schedule and Urbana and defending 3A champion Linganore possibly awaiting in the playoffs. But the Jaguars should contend with senior quarterback Ike Whitaker at the helm.

Whitaker may be the most highly touted quarterback in the county after passing for 20 touchdowns and rushing for an additional seven last season.

Bouncing Back

5 Springbrook and Whitman both emerged last season and challenged the balance of power in Montgomery 4A, which has long been dominated by Gaithersburg, Damascus and Sherwood.

Whitman went undefeated and Springbrook lost just twice during the regular season before both squads lost first-round playoff games.

Whitman seems more likely to challenge for a playoff berth this season after returning the bulk of last year's starting lineup. Gone is standout quarterback Tyler Lazear (West Point), but his younger brother Pat, a fullback/linebacker, is back along with most of the offensive and defensive lines.

Springbrook's best shot at a title may have been last season. The Blue Devils were a senior-dominated team in 2003, and their losses include leading rusher Marlon Curtis.

Northwest senior quarterback Ike Whitaker, who threw 20 TDs last season, looks to guide the Jaguars past tough competition and to a state title.