3A East Region

Coach: Brian Van Deusen (sixth season, 34-18).

Last year: 10-1 overall, 9-0 league.

Last postseason appearance/state title: 2004/none.

Returning starters on offense/defense: 5/6.

Players to watch: OG/NG B.J. Benning, Sr.; QB/LB Daniel Hostetler, Jr.; RB/DB Kevin Magan, Sr.; TE/LB Greg Nowak, Jr.; RB/LB Peter Ridge, Sr.; RB/LB Darol Smith, Sr.

Run with it: Van Deusen hopes Smith, Magan, Ridge and senior Nick Campanaro can collectively compensate for the loss of Tyler Martin, who rushed for a school-record 1,221 yards and 13 touchdowns before graduating last spring. The running game should be bolstered by the return of senior guards Boris Tartakovsky and Benning, and Hostetler is one of the county's fastest quarterbacks.

Ballcarriers beware: River Hill could have the county's best linebackers. Ridge, Hostetler and Nowak are extremely physical and should be tough to block. Van Deusen believes he has depth at the position with sophomores Zach Martin and Sean Brew, standouts on the junior varsity last year.

What Van Deusen first looks for in a player: "Speed and quickness. If you look at all the top college teams, a lot of what they do involves getting the ball to players who are fast. You really can't teach speed. You can help a kid get stronger by putting him on a good weight training program, but you really can't coach a kid to be fast."

Darol Smith goes high in a drill. The Hawks hope several running backs can make up for the loss of Tyler Martin.Above, tight end Greg Nowak, who is also a linebacker. At left, Daniel Hostetler, left, one of the county's fastest quarterbacks, calls a play. Below, guard B.J. Benning. River Hill was 10-1 last season and went undefeated in the league.