Team to Beat
It would be easy to look at the fact that DeMatha has one -- yes, count him, one -- returning starter on offense and one on defense and think that a third consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title is out of the question.
Of course, almost no other school has resources like DeMatha, which can graduate a full team and simply call on the following senior class to take its turn.
"We're used to it; every year we'll graduate 25 to 30 seniors," Coach Bill McGregor said. "It's the next group of kids' turn to step up and make things happen. We have to become a team, play hard, be unselfish. If we do that, we'll be fine."
Offensively, it helps that the lone returning starter is quarterback Marc Poblador. Running back Patrick Mealy also has experience and sophomore Kenny Tate could be an impact player from his first varsity snap. Lineman Ryan Bartholomew already has accepted a scholarship to play for Syracuse.
The team's defensive returning starter also is a good one: lineman Reggie Gibson, another Division I recruit. Kicker Matt Campbell gives the Stags an advantage over most opponents when it comes to special teams.
So while the names have changed, the result might not.
Pallotti is coming off a 9-2 season in which it made a run at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's B Conference title. But the Panthers must replace their starting quarterback and big-play tight end, leading Coach Jack Mead to tinker with his offensive philosophy.
Junior Matt Dean takes over at quarterback, but Pallotti probably will not pass as much as it did in the past. With running backs Trevin Parrish and Harold Morton, the Panthers have two fast runners who likely will be asked to carry the offense. Three-year starter Jeremy Jernigan leads the offensive line and Mead is excited about his program's depth, with 75 players out for the varsity and junior varsity teams.
Best of the Rest
Bishop McNamara won just one game in Coach Bryce Bevill's first season, but five returning starters on offense and seven on defense brighten the outlook for this season. Running back Ed Tyson and tight end Kelvin Smith are potential Division I recruits. And the Mustangs have size on the line in 300-pounders Ricardo Thomas and DaQuan Mills as they try to improve their standing in the WCAC.
"We're going to be better and I think we're going to be much more competitive," Bevill said. "Last year going into the season, we had 24 guys. This year we are going into the season with 45 guys. That's going to make us a little more competitive just by adding depth." . . .
Riverdale Baptist also has size with linemen Troy Clegg (6-9, 320) and Mike Lacey (6-4, 320). The Crusaders also have a potential star in senior wide receiver Chris McFarland, but the lack of an experienced quarterback could be a problem for the county's lone independent team.
-- JOSH BARR