Favorite: Centreville (8-4)
The Wildcats return 18 starters to a team that Coach Chris Haddock said is “one of the best group of talented kids I’ve been around.”
Around the league: Westfield graduated its three top offensive linemen and two most productive skill players, but the cupboard isn’t bare for the Bulldogs. Tyler Thrasher-Walker brings a balance of speed and power as a rusher, while the defense possesses experience in defenders Connor McNulty and Tim Curry. . . . Centreville has reason for optimism behind its wealth of talent on both sides of the ball. As two-way starters, RB/DB AJ Turner, WR/DB Charles Tutt and RB/LB Xavier Nickens-Yzer are dangerous with the ball in their hands, and hard-hitting Chad Wiggins is one of the area’s top all-purpose defenders. . . . Chantilly lost some of its offensive firepower via graduation, placing the onus on RB Deandre Harris to build on last year’s output of 1,172 yards and nine TDs. Harris is also expected to see more time at DB, where he will be joined on defense by lockdown cornerback Raeshawn Smith and emerging junior linebacker David Kerns. . . . After going on a Cinderella run to the Northern Region title last season, Oakton again rests a bit under the radar following the loss of nearly 97 percent of its offensive production, including QB Kyle Downer and All-Met OL Chris Durant. The Cougars will depend on their defense to lead them back into contention. DB Eric South and sophomore LB Cesar Escajada are players to watch. . . . Robinson enters this season under Coach Dan Meier, who guided Chantilly and West Potomac to state titles, and one of the area’s top rushers in Joe Wilson (2,358 yards and 33 touchdowns).