Last year, Largo's Prince George's AA title hopes were dashed the first week when it was shut out, 12-0, by eventual league champion Friendly. Largo finished the season with a 9-1 mark and no playoff berth.
Crossland was 4-0 record it was upended by Oxon Hill, 25-7. Crossland finished with an 8-2 record and it, too, failed to get a postseason playoff spot.
Prince George's league play commences tonight and both Largo and Crossland are anxiously awaiting opening opponents for different reasons. Largo gets an easier opponent, playing host to Suitland. Crossland can earn a measure of revenge when it faces Oxon Hill at Friendly. Both games are at 7:30.
Suitland lost all 10 games last year and has dropped 12 straight over a two-year period. Coach Bobby Johnson said his team is capable of playing .500 football this season and a win over Largo could be the first step toward respectability.
Largo Coach Rocco Romeo isn't very optimistic this season, and with good reason. "There's no one left here but me," said Romeo, assessing his talent. "We have to build everywhere."
Crossland can accomplish two goals tonight by beating Oxon Hill. The Cavaliers would avenge last year's loss and get the team off to the good start Coach Larry Layman feels it needs to gain confidence.
"We have some good people back, but our offense has not been very consistent in our scrimmages," Layman said. "Our defense may have to carry us for a while."
Their first job will be to stop Santio Barbosa, who had a big hand in beating Crossland last year. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound tailback will be asked to do triple duty this year. In addition to running, he will start at linebacker and handle all the kick-return duties.
"Other good teams use their best athletes both ways, why can't we?" asked Oxon Hill Coach Mike Pearson. "Santio is a good athlete and he wants to play linebacker. I'm not worried about him getting hurt. Since people want to see him, I'll let them. He'll still touch the ball 25 times on offense."
Layman knows how good Barbosa is. "He is definitely a major concern for us. He has that good speed and we have to stop him from turning the corners."
"Pearson has changed his offense some to take pressure off Barbosa. He's throwing more so if we come up to concentrate on Barbosa, we could get beat deep," Layman said. "It'll be an interesting game."
Barbosa has enjoyed three good scrimmages running the ball, gaining just over 600 yards and breaking several long runs. Knowing his senior will be the focus of attention all year, Pearson has gone to a more wide-open attack to get other players involved.
"We won't be boring," Pearson said. "Our quarterback, Bryan Bouchelion, can pass and we plan to throw, to our ends, Barbosa, everyone. We don't know how we'll do but we're healthy and ready to go."
Like Oxon Hill, Suitland has a quality running back who also will get his share of attention from defenses. Senior Jevester Byrams, who scored nine of the 10 Suitland touchdowns last year, will touch the ball as often as possible.
In other games today, Carroll (0-0) puts its 14-game winning streak on the line today when it plays host to Mount St. Joseph's (0-0). W.T. Woodson (1-0) travels to Oakton (1-0) for a Virginia AAA Northern District game and Charlottesville (1-0) will try to extend the 14-game losing streak of host Fauquier.
On Saturday, Seneca Valley attempts to make Northwood its 23rd consecutive victim in its opener, Einstein will try to snap its 11-game losing streak at Sherwood and Bishop Ireton, loser of 16 straight, is host to O'Connell.