Damascus brings back a roster loaded with playmakers, including All-Met South Carolina WR/DB recruit Jalen Christian. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Favorite: Damascus (9-2)

The Swarmin’ Hornets return all of their starters on defense, and they lost just three starters on offense. Damascus will be led by a new quarterback in Derek Gibson, but he will have All-Met wide receiver/defensive back Jalen Christian, a South Carolina commit, to lean on. Leading rusher Jake Funk (735 yards, seven touchdowns) also returns for his junior season. With the team’s two losses last season coming by a combined two points, the seniors are motivated to get past the first round of the playoffs after losing to Urbana by one point two years in a row.

Contender: Seneca Valley (7-3)

Around the league: Seneca Valley will have the challenge of replacing quarterback Calvin Reighard, who threw for 1,089 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, but the Screaming Eagles return running back Adrian Feliz-Platt (14 touchdowns). Seneca Valley has had at least six wins every season this century. . . . First-year Einstein Coach Neal Owens faces the challenge of replacing quarterback Roy Russell IV and running back Khalil Wilson, who rushed for 1,599 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. The strength of the team will be its line with the entire starting offensive and defensive lines returning, But a lack of depth could hurt the Titans if injury issues arise during the season. Owens said the team will play faster than it has in the past. . . .

Rockville coaches believed in quarterback Chuck Reese last season in his first year as the varsity starter, moving an established quarterback to receiver to make room for Reese. He delivered, throwing for 2,932 yards and 37 touchdowns, so the offense will likely go through him again this season. . . . Wheaton returns its top running back from last season, Dominyck Sims, who rushed for 765 yards. . . . Northwood graduated quarterback Charles Hennessey, a three-year starter for the Titans, but returns running back K’Yon Giles, who combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving last season. . . .

Host Jessica Honesty and Chelsea Janes preview high school football for the 2014 season in the Montgomery County area. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

Poolesville returns 13 starters from last season and will look to returning starting quarterback Steven Morningstar (1,112 passing yards and 16 touchdowns) after graduating running back Charles Lyles, who had 1,623 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. The defense is anchored by defensive lineman Jon Bateky, a Rutgers commit. Trey Willis will be the starting running back this season.

More high school football preview content

First-year quarterbacks take the reins for contending teams

Montgomery 4A East | 4A West | 4A South | WCAC

Anne Arundel | SMAC | Prince George’s 4A | 3A/2A/1A

Howard | IAC | MAC | MIAA | CAFC