Week 1: Stone Bridge at Centreville — Aug. 30, 7 p.m.
Most Virginia public schools begin a week earlier than those in Maryland. This game is a good way to start. Perennial Class 5 power Stone Bridge, coming off its seventh appearance in the state championship game, will open against Class 6 contender Centreville, which will be playing its first game under Coach Jon Shields. Chris Haddock retired in May following nine seasons at the helm.
Option B: American Heritage (Fla.) at Gonzaga — Aug. 30, 6:30 p.m.
Week 2: Wise at Eleanor Roosevelt — Sept. 6, 7 p.m.
Last season was difficult for Wise, the longtime king of Prince George’s County. After three straight Maryland 4A championships, the Pumas fell to Quince Orchard in the state semifinals. The first notable matchup of their bounce-back season is against rival Eleanor Roosevelt, which will aim to score a signature victory.
Option B: St. Mary’s Ryken vs. Calvert Hall (at Georgetown University) — Sept. 7, 7 p.m.
Week 3: Quince Orchard at Damascus — Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m.
This is a big game, especially this early in the season, as Quince Orchard travels north to take on the Swarmin’ Hornets. Despite their different classifications, these teams are consistently the best in Montgomery County but don’t often meet. Quince Orchard is coming off a state title, and Damascus has been rocked by scandal.
Option B: Friendship Collegiate at H.D. Woodson — Sept. 14, 5 p.m.
Week 4: National Christian at Riverdale Baptist — Sept. 20, 7 p.m.
National Christian has steadily improved under Coach Andre Kates, and it enters this year with plenty of talent. Senior defensive back Joshuah Moten, a Texas A&M commit, and sought-after junior lineman Monkell Goodwine are headliners for the Eagles. Each team will play a tough schedule, but this rivalry meeting is the one to watch.
Option B: St. Ignatius (Ohio) at DeMatha — Sept. 21, 1 p.m.
Week 5: St. John’s vs. Mater Dei (Calif.) (at Catholic University) — Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m.
On paper, St. John’s has the toughest schedule in the area — if not the country. A matchup with California powerhouse Mater Dei comes in the middle of a particularly arduous early-season stretch that also includes IMG Academy (Fla.) and Duncanville (Tex.). If the Cadets can survive that, they will be rewarded with the constant competition and never-ending parity of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
Option B: Friendship Collegiate at Good Counsel — Sept. 27, 7 p.m.
Week 6: Fairfax at T.C. Williams — Oct. 5, 3 p.m.
This game is worth a watch based on the location alone. T.C. Williams, one of the most storied programs in Virginia, will play its home games at the St. James, an indoor sports performance facility in Springfield. The field should be a major upgrade to the school’s aging surface, and the Titans may have the talent to make this season away from home even more special. They’ll take on the Rebels in their homecoming game.
Option B: Howard at Glenelg — Oct. 4, 7 p.m.
Week 7: Madison at Westfield — Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
The last time these programs met, freezing rain soaked the field and Westfield muscled out a win in the region championship game. Every meeting seems to turn into a slugfest, and this one should be no different. Westfield carries new motivation after its state title streak was snapped by Freedom-Woodbridge in December.
Option B: Churchill at Northwest — Oct. 11, 6:30 p.m.
Week 8: Georgetown Prep at Landon — Oct. 19, 2 p.m.
Landon finished last season with just one loss. Unfortunately for the Bears, it was to Georgetown Prep, the eventual Interstate Athletic Conference champion. The Little Hoyas’ campaign to repeat will be led by senior running back Jalen Hampton, and they must go through the revenge-minded Bears.
Option B: Freedom-Woodbridge at Woodbridge — Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
Week 9: Good Counsel vs. DeMatha (at Catholic University) — Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
This WCAC rivalry headlines a weekend packed with premier matchups. The Falcons and Stags both have talent; the question is whether either can ascend to the top of their ultracompetitive conference. Both teams will feature new quarterbacks and plenty of Division I prospects on defense.
Option B: Ballou at H.D. Woodson — Oct. 25, 6 p.m.
Week 10: North Point at Northern — Nov. 1, 7 p.m.
North Point’s undefeated season ended with a state championship game appearance last fall, and it’ll look to carry that momentum into this season. Bringing back quarterback Asa Williams helps that cause. But the Eagles will have to fend off Southern Maryland Athletic Conference contenders such as Northern to get back to the top.
Option B: Bullis at Landon — Nov. 2, 2 p.m.
Week 11: St. John’s vs. Gonzaga (at Catholic University) — Nov. 9, 3 p.m.
St. John’s, arguably the most hyped team in the WCAC heading into the season, will face the defending champion to close the year. For Gonzaga, it’s a chance for quarterback Caleb Williams and the Eagles to enter the playoffs on a high note.
Option B: Broad Run at Stone Bridge — Nov. 8, 7 p.m.