Prince George's County football takes on a new look this season with eight new head coaches and a greater balance expected in both the AA and AB leagues.
Crossland (9-2) last year will try to retain its county AA title under first-year Coach Larry Layman, who served as an assistant for 12 years before taking a vacation in 1977.
Layman has five starters back, but quarterback Art Feeney dislocated a shoulder and may miss several weeks. Eddie Holland, who shared the signal-calling with Feeney a year ago, is a capable replacement, but has been so impressive at fullback during scrimmages he may stay there.
Ends Danny Johnson and Tony Andriani and tackle Mike Pope give the Cavaliers an experienced defensive front.
"We felt we were pretty decent until the injury," Layman said. "It looks like a well-balanced league. A few breaks may determine the title."
A familiar face among all the new ones is that of the dean of PG coaches, John Voight of High Point (6-4), who is beginning his 20th season at the helm of the Eagles. Quarterback David Jerome, split end Leo North and center Bruce McCallon are the returning starters for a season Voight predicts will be "building" and "educational."
Bowie (5-5) has just four starters back, but can fill many gaps from its once-beaten junior varsity. The veterans are tailback John Phillips, and Paul Houck, who also punts, and two-way performers Steve Oksvatics (guard-defensive end) and Brent Ellis (linebacker-fullback.)
Northwestern (5-5) has a new coach, Fulton Gross. Offensive and defensive tackle Tim Conway, linebacker-fullback Dwayne Gross and flanker Alonzo Ouzts should stand out. Guard Jamie Morrison will help on the offensive line and ends David Dukes and Simon Ware and linebacker Kevin Foley are experienced on defense.
Bladensburg (4-6) could be the sleeper of AA, with six starters back on both offense and defense. Quarterback Earl Hoffman has tight ends Mo Rum and Fred Artis to both block and catch passes and wide receiver Darryl Hamilton also will gain yards.
Largo (4-6) also could mount a challenge. Tailback Raymond Toomer and wide receiver Eric Wade have seasoning, but tight end Jeff Barham will miss at least three or four weeks with a knee injury.
Potomac Coach John Watson is encouraged by the enthusiasm of his squad. The Braves (7-3) have four starters back in Clyde Duncan, a versatile performer in both the offensive and defensive backfields; John Gilroy, who also plays in the offensive and defensive backfields; Rebo Dickens, a middle linebacker and offensive guard, and receiver Mason Thorpe.
Suitland would like to match its 8-2 mark of a year ago under new Coach Bobby Johnson.
Parkdale Coach Dave Jaskulsky takes the reins of a 2-8 team and promises some surprises from his young squad after a "couple games." He cites tight end-defensive end Jimmy Morton, junior defensive back Chris Jackson and guard Guy Kowalski.
DuVal (2-8) has 11 veterans. The offensive line of tackles Reggie Quattlebaum and Willard Keyes, guard John Scaton and center Frankie Jahn should open the holes. First-year Coach William Settle, who graduated from assistant, must find some runners.
Pat Baker has 26 sophomores on the 43-man team for his first campaign at Laurel (2-8). Sophomores Tommy Holland and Charles Pritchard are battling for the right to pass to experienced flanker A. C. Greg, who also plays in the defensive backfield.
Friendly (10-2), runner-up in the Maryland Class A, starts with difficult nonleague confrontations - with O'Connell, Thomas Johnson of Frederick, and H. D. Woodson.
"If we get through those three games," said Coach Jim Crawford, "that's when we start worrying about things like that (the county championship)."
Not that Crawford is conceding anything. "We've won 63 games in eight years," he said. "The The kids put the pressure on themselves. They see we've won 19, lost three in the last two years."
The defense has linebackers Louis Evans and John Ferraiuolo, guard Larry Kotwas and end Paul Massie returning. Tackles Dennis Feysko and Steve Sturiale are the offensive veterans.
Surrattsville went 9-1 for the second straight season last year without making the state playoffs. This time, the Hornets hope to clear that hurdle behind the arm of three-year quarterback Joe Kucharski, who directs the option offense.
Coach Mike Pearson moved from Gwynn Park to Oxon Hill (4-6) and will try to reverse the Clippers' first losing season in seven years. Pearson will rely on the leadership of Craig Sands, a tight end and defensive end, and quarterback Mike Lampires.
James Griffin takes over at Gwynn Park (4-6) and inherits a team with more than a dozen veterans. Steve Nichols and Mike Bell are fighting for the quarterback slot. Mark Scott and Charles Ellis are back and will play in both lines.
Douglass (6-4) will be prone to "young mistakes," said Coach Rex Holliday, but should be helped by players from last season's 8-2 junior varsity. Fullback Dwayne Webb and guard Jeff Wybill are back on offense and tackle Eric Rottman and middle linebacker Dirke Williams will start again on defense.
Central (6-4) will count heavily on senior tight end Steve Bresnahan.
Fairmont Heights (3-7) has 11 starters back, but must construct an offensive line to lead the way for running backs Purcell Johnson, Gary Alston and Gary Wilson.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1-9) has good morale, said Coach Ben Wright, and nine starters.