Jeff Kingsbury, Northern, Sr.

Kingsbury, who shot consistently in the 70s last season, will join Sam Hoffer in leading a team that returns all of its starters. Kingsbury had a 5-over 76 during the first day of last year's state tournament and finished with a two-day total of 154, tying him for 20th overall.

Vincent Hancock, La Plata, Sr.

The Warriors senior carded an even-par 72 to win the District IV tournament, his first tournament victory. He finished 30th at the state tournament.

"My strengths are driving the ball and my short game around the green," Hancock said. "I worked hard this summer on improving the rest of my game."

Andrew Wiley, Patuxent, Sr.

As a junior, his consistent play led the Panthers and qualified him for the state tournament, where his first-round 85 was 11th-best in the day.

Can youth prevail at La Plata?

The Warriors have switched roles from the hunted to the hunters, and they will have to do it with a talented but young squad. Seniors Vincent Hancock and Daniel Barnas will anchor a team loaded with talented underclassmen. In order to catch Northern, though, they will need a strong top-to-bottom effort.

"Our team will be pretty solid," Barnas said. "We're young, but we're good, and I think we can really put it together."

Can a SMAC team win the state tournament?

Northern held a first-day lead at last year's state tournament before yielding to Churchill, which won its third consecutive 4A/3A championship. But with their entire starting lineup returning, the Patriots hope this year will be different.

"We have to worry about the SMAC and qualifying first," said Northern Coach Rob Halstead. "But I'd be lying if I said our long-term goal wasn't to compete for the title."

How much will home course advantage help?

Pending approval, the SMAC schedule has the conference tournament at Twin Shields Golf Club, Northern's home course. Familiarity will make it that much tougher for teams to challenge the Patriots.

"It's far away for us," Hancock said. "We don't get much of a chance to play it, so that's really an advantage for" Northern.