C.H. Flowers returns only three starters on defense, but the Jaguars might be without one of them in Saturday's season opener against visiting Edmondson of Baltimore. DE Bakari Bayou, one of two returning two-way starters, twisted his right ankle last week and Coach Mike Mayo was uncertain when Bayou might return.

"That hurts pretty good," said Mayo, who thinks Suitland is the team to beat in the 4A League. "Especially with the toughest part of our schedule early."

Without Bayou, Flowers will rely even more on DT Charles Smith, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior. . . .

Northwestern returns speedy QB Larrone Moore, who has already been offered scholarships by Kent State and Middle Tennessee State. MLB Edgar Amaya will lead the defense after making a team-high 118 tackles last season. But Northwestern Coach Bryan Pierre thinks the key to a seventh consecutive winning season lies with a different group of players.

"It depends on my front line," said Pierre, who will rely on three-year starter Daniel Malcolm, a 6-3, 290-pound senior. "I'm quite pleased with the work they've put in in the offseason. If they can keep it together and stay healthy, I think they can take it as far as we need to go." . . .

It was a tumultuous offseason at Parkdale, where coach Mike Rucker was let go just one year after guiding the Panthers to their first state title since 1974. The school hired Riverdale Baptist assistant Damian Ferragamo, who then saw many of the team's key returning players transfer. RB Charlie Rivers went to Largo, where Rucker is an assistant to Ray Crawford, who was a Parkdale assistant last season. RB Malcolm Banks transferred to Eleanor Roosevelt and DL Patrick Mimms and DL Terrance Randolph transferred to Douglass and Gwynn Park, respectively.

"We must have had five kids transfer out who would have been starters," Ferragamo said. "We lost a lot of talent, but I'm happy with the ones we have. We might be a little thin, but I believe our first units are going to be just as good as anybody else." . . .

After going 1-9 in his first season, Oxon Hill Coach Randolph Warren thinks his team is ready to turn things around. The Clippers expect to be solid up front -- led by G/DE Rahmad Powell, who has committed to James Madison -- and Warren expects a payoff.

"We're ready to put the losing behind us and win some games," he said. "That's the key, winning games this year." . . .

First-year coach Ray Crawford wants to make football fun for his Largo team. The Lions return talented QB Jomah Watson and add RB Charlie Rivers, a transfer from Parkdale. But Crawford -- who might be surprised to learn that other coaches think Largo is a dangerous team -- does not want opposing defenses to be able to key on any one player.

"We're going to be a lot more exciting and unpredictable," Crawford said. "We're going to throw a little wing-T at you, we're going to throw at you, we're going to throw some I and pro-set at you. You're not going to know what we're going to do. We might not know what we're doing."

-- JOSH BARR