Atholton's Scott DeFrances wears a neon green lanyard on his left wrist, hemp rope on his right wrist and cubic zirconium on his ears. He sports a necklace of white seashells and a black shoestring he thinks looks better around his neck than on his feet.

And that's just at soccer practice.

"You should see me at school," he said. "It gets better."

Lime green pants with a yellow shirt? He's worn it. White pants with a pink dress shirt -- "I have to pop the collar up, too," he said. Bright orange pants with a gray polo shirt? One of his favorite outfits.

"Scott's known for his style, and every year some of the younger kids at our school try to dress like him as the year goes on," senior midfielder Andrew Chandler said. "But Scott's style fits him perfectly because it's wild but under control."

Wild but under control. That also describes the All-County sweeper's play on the field, where he also stands out among his peers.

DeFrances is the last field player separating an opposing forward from senior goalie Austin McAffee.

And although most sweepers' only job is coordinating the defense, DeFrances has as much of a role in scoring goals.

"He's a very valuable part of their team because a lot of stuff they do on the field runs through him," River Hill Coach Bill Stara said. "He gives teams problems with his long runs."

Last year, DeFrances was the second leading scorer on the team, with seven goals, and he recorded a team-high eight assists. He experienced most of his success on set plays, where he could use his deft touch to take advantage of a free kick or head corner kicks into the goal, which he did three times.

"Scott and I don't agree on a lot when it comes to his clothes, his jewelry and when he should get a haircut," said Coach Roch DeFrances, also Scott's dad. "But we agree that he's the leader of this team."

Scott DeFrances smiles when he thinks about last season because it is filled with fond memories. The Raiders won just two games combined in the two seasons before but showed much improvement by finishing the regular season 5-5 in 2003.

"You could tell everything started falling into place," Scott DeFrances said. "We knew we could win."

The Raiders reeled off three consecutive victories to claim the Maryland 2A South Region title and earn their first berth in the state tournament in 13 years. They lost to Parkside in the semifinals, 1-0.

But the success also brought something new to the Raiders as they took the field for preseason practice: high expectations.

The Raiders have seven returning starters -- including Chandler (six goals, six assists), senior forward Winston Jackson (eight goals, four assists) and junior midfielder Grayson Schmelzer (four goals, seven assists) -- set on elevating the team into the county's upper echelon and winning the Raiders' first state title.

"Last year, we snuck up on a lot of teams, and we want to prove what happened last season wasn't a fluke," Scott DeFrances said. "In years past, we hoped we could win, but we didn't really believe we could. This year, we really believe we can win."

But it will not be easy. The Raiders will face River Hill, Mount Hebron and Oakland Mills -- teams they have not defeated in DeFrances's three previous seasons on varsity.

"We've been the underdogs in this county for so long, and now we've gotten to a point where we expect to win if we play the way we can," Roch DeFrances said. "Clearly, this is the best team I've had in eight years here, but will that translate into more wins? We'll just have to see."

Sweeper Scott DeFrances helped Atholton make the Maryland state playoffs last year for the first time in 13 seasons.