QB Michael Spahr is back for Urbana, the defending Maryland 4A champion. (Jonathan Newton/THE WASHINGTON POST)
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Urbana (13-0) won the 2010 Maryland 4A title in Ryan Hines’s first year as head coach but will have a more difficult road to M&T Bank Stadium this season now that the Hawks and Thomas Johnson will be competing in the pressure cooker known as the 3A West with Linganore , Quince Orchard and Damascus. A quality team or two will almost certainly be left out of the playoffs, but the Hawks will have a great shot behind an intense defense led by 6-5, 225 lineman Colton Kmetz, who led the team last season with 221 / 2 tackles for loss. Senior DB George Van Hove, who tied for the team lead with five interceptions last season, also returns. Senior QB Michael Spahr completed more than 65 percent of his passes for more than 2,000 yards last season and will again run the offense. . . . Linganore (7-3) will feature senior RB Joe Riddle, who ran for 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and is committed to Maryland, while first-year full-time starter Kyle Jennings gets his legs under him at quarterback. Senior LB Tyler Thompson and senior DT Nick Lucian are again expected to be among the team leaders in tackles. . . . One-year-old Oakdale will compete on the varsity level for the first time this fall. The Bears, who pull from the same communities as Linganore, Urbana and Thomas Johnson , will have no seniors but are coming off a 6-2 junior varsity season. . . . Thomas Johnson (7-4) returns 13 starters, nine on offense and four on defense. The Patriots will lean heavily on senior RB Brendan Berney, the team’s top returning rusher. . . . Tuscarora (4-6) finished toward the middle of the pack last season and is looking to take a step forward behind the steady, experienced play of three-year starting OT Brady Stup. Senior Abu Kiawu steps into the quarterback position and brings speed and athleticism to the table. . . . Junior QB Matt Hynes threw for more than 1,000 yards for Frederick (1-9) last year. His favorite target will be four-year starter Jalen Gee. Junior Jerel English and sophomore Rhyan Crompton will anchor the defense.

— Carl Little