Running back Marquel Dickerson and North Point are poised to make plenty of noise in the SMAC this fall. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Favorite: North Point (7-3)

The Eagles will be young on defense but return a core group on offense including tight end Marquise Watts (Temple), running back Marquel Dickerson and junior Brandon Battle at quarterback.

Contenders: Huntingtown (12-2); McDonough (9-2); Patuxent (8-3)

Around the league: Huntingtown lost 26 seniors and brings back only two offensive starters. Seniors DL Dalonte Holland and LB Austin Kline will lead the 3A state runner-up on defense and RB Arnez Bowens charted 1,369 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns in 2012. . . . McDonough’s only conference loss last year was to Patuxent and former North Point assistant Ryan Gick is the new head coach. . . . RB Rafiq Douglas is expected to be at full strength for Patuxent after a knee injury in last year’s 2A South region final. . . . Coach Rick Sneade led Calvert (6-4) to its best record in 11 years and returns seven starters on defense and first team all-conference lineman Austin Long. . . . Nearly all of the starting skill position players at Lackey (3-7) played significant snaps last year. Senior Delondo Boyd will play multiple positions on offense and is being recruited as a safety by Fordham. . . . Chopticon (2-8) will rely on an experienced junior class after entering 2012 with one returning starter on offense and ending with the Braves’ worst record in nine years. . . . La Plata ’s new Coach Seth Pettit looks to a “whistle-to-whistle” mentality and halfback Jvon Simmons to improve on last year’s 1-9 finish. . . . Westlake (8-4) has lost to rival Huntingtown in the 3A South region final the last four years. . . . Thomas Stone (4-6) and RB Trey Lee and WR Jeff Thomas could benefit from the speed of junior Juwaun Briscoe, who sat out last season but was a state indoor track finalist in the 300 meters and a starter his freshman year. . . . Darren DeMeio takes over at Northern (4-6) where four-year varsity player Taylor Wagner will return at quarterback.

Related: D.C. area rich in linemen prospects

Prince George’s 4A preview | Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A preview

Montgomery 4A East preview | Montgomery 4A West preview

Games to Watch

Preseason All-Met Watch

Host B.J. Koubaroulis and Roman Stubbs preview the high school football season in the state of Maryland. (Nick Plum/Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC for The Washington Post)

Rankings: The Post Top 20