River Hill Hawks
Last year: 9-2 overall, 8-1 league (county co-champions).
Coach: Brian Van Deusen, fifth season (24-17).
Last playoff appearance: 2003, lost in the 3A East Region semifinals.
Keep an eye on: RB/FB/LB Tyler Martin. In a county deep with running backs and fullbacks, there is only one "super back." That's because in River Hill's complex offense, Martin performs both roles -- and more.
"Tyler will do everything in our offense except throw the football," Van Deusen said. "He'll run the ball, help block and you'll see him catch some passes. He's going to do a little bit of everything."
That's fine with the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior. His size and speed combine to fill an important role in one of the league's most prolific offenses, behind All-County senior quarterback Ben Hostetler (1,355 yards, 14 TDs).
Martin rushed for 310 yards and caught seven passes for 56 yards last year but was a secondary option behind tight end Ben Nowak, the All-County offensive player of the year, and running back Tim Morgan (959 yards, seven TDs) -- both of whom have graduated.
Martin, who will also start at linebacker (he posted 62 tackles and two sacks last fall), has to deal with something those two players did not: high expectations. The Hawks shared the county title and made the playoffs for the first time last year and expect nothing less this season.
"Before, coaches and players would talk about our goal being to make the playoffs, but it's because we had to whether we believed it or not," Martin said. "Now, everyone here believes we should be a playoff team."
River Hill's biggest concerns are the offensive and defensive lines, which graduated two All-County players and will be led this year by seniors Dave Erdman and Josh Horton. Hostetler is one of the county's most accurate quarterbacks, but the Hawks graduated nearly all of their receivers, and hope sophomore Greg Nowak (Ben's brother) and senior John Pattillo can fill the void.
"Everyone talks about how many good players we don't have this year," Martin said. "But believe me, we're going to turn some heads and be good again this year. That's a fact."