Hayfield’s Justin Dill (with ball) (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Favorite: Hayfield (8-5)

The Hawks return nine starters on defense and several playmakers from a team that reached a region final last season.

Contenders: Yorktown (9-2)

Perennial threat returns its starting quarterback and is among most consistent performers in the region.

Dark horse: Stuart (5-6)

The Raiders return 14 starters from a team that advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1994.

Around the league

Hayfield is replacing its center and quarterback from the team that reached the Virginia AAA Division 5 final, but the Hawks return several starters — including LB Anthony Wilson, RB-LB Steven Lynch, DL Kelechi Adoma, DL-TE Justin Dill and WR-DB Hayden Knudson. A more physical line will make them even more of a challenge this season, according to Coach Roy Hill. . . . Yorktown returns QB Jordan Smith, who has recovered from back surgery in the offseason and provides a dual threat. Senior LB Austin Browne will lead the defense. . . . Stuart returns nine starters on offense, including four of five on the offensive line. G Tony Konjevoda anchors that unit, with QB Javonte Robinsonand RB Chris Kirby expected to lead the way offensively. An upgraded secondary, led by newcomer Ethan Leventhal, should boost a defense that returns five starters. . . . RB Dayshawn Meadows is back for Falls Church (2-8). . . . Wakefield (1-9) will be led by QB Drew Powell. . . . Mount Vernon RB Dennis Mensah rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season and carried the Majors (5-6) through the end of last season. . . . Washington-Lee (6-6) has seven returning starters from a team that won six games for the first time since 1993. . . . Edison (3-7) will look to QB Charles Clark, who threw for more than 600 yards in the final four games last season, and 6-1, 230-pound RB Jarrett Banks to lead the offense. The Eagles bring back 14 starters, including eight on defense.

— Paul Tenorio