3A East Region

Coach: Larry Luthe (eighth season, 31-39).

Last year: 8-2 overall, 7-2 league.

Last postseason appearance/state title: 2003/none.

Returning starters on offense/defense: 5/6.

Players to watch: RB/DB Chris Eccleston, Jr.; QB/DB Alex Iwaskiw, Jr.; TE/DE Aaron Maybin, Sr.; OG/DL Matt McKenna, Sr.; RB/S Aaron Parsons, Jr.; FB/LB Aaron Simon, Jr.

Run with it: The double-slot offense is geared toward Eccleston (821 rushing yards, nine touchdowns), who is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield (19 catches for 452 yards and six touchdowns). Eccleston, a two-time All-County selection, could have his best year running behind an experienced line featuring senior center Steve Colegrove and senior guards Justin Waite and McKenna.

Ballcarriers beware: Defensive end Maybin is one of the most sought-after recruits in Howard County history after making 80 tackles and nine sacks last year. Maybin is the key to the 4-3 defense, which is looking to rebound after it wilted last season in the final two games and the team lost a chance to advance to the playoffs.

What Luthe first looks for in a player: "Heart. I think in high school football, everyone you line up against is pretty even with you, except for maybe a few starters on a few teams who are just better than everyone else. So most games are going to be decided on which teams win more of those close one-on-one matchups, and those come down to who just wants it more."