Gwynn Park’s Brandon Banks (Doug Kapustin/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
Favorite: Gwynn Park (8-2)

DB Brandon Banks headlines what could be a dominant defense.

Contenders: Friendly (9-3), Potomac (6-4)

The Patriots are the deepest team in the league, while the Wolverines have Notre Dame recruit Ronald Darby.

Dark horse: Forestville (6-5)

The Knights have made five straight trips to the Maryland 1A South playoffs.

Around the league

Gwynn Park missed the postseason last year for just the second time since 2000. Don’t expect that to happen again with a defense led by Banks (Vanderbilt), TreVaughn Sullivan and Mike Wingard. . . . Friendly senior QB D’Von Dorsey and senior DE Demetrius Lofton have both committed to Temple. . . . Potomac’s Darby, one of the area’s best athletes, can be dominant at running back and in the secondary. Senior DBs Tavon Young and Dondre Echols are also impact players. . . . Forestville only had 19 players on the first day of practice, but DE Howard Jenkins and WR Andre Dalton lead a talented squad that should give the league’s bigger programs a run. . . . Don’t count out Douglass (9-2). The Eagles return only four starters, but behind three-year starting QB Taitor Reynolds, they should remain in the hunt for their ninth consecutive postseason appearance. Reynolds has plenty of weapons to work with, including WRs Paul Harrisand David Lawrence and RB Josef Hinnant.. . . Junior RB Carl Turner leads a young Largo team that is looking to build toughness. The Lions (3-7) are also strong at linebacker, with seniors Antoine Ward and Mohamed Cisse and junior Dimonte Cosbert. . . . Surrattsville (3-7) continues to aim for its second-ever postseason appearance after the Hornets first made it in 2007. . . . Senior QB Julian Livingston and senior RB Ashquinn Gordon lead offensive-minded Fairmont Heights (2-8), which is looking to improve after winning eight games over the past five seasons. . . . Senior QB Cornell Duncan and DBs Kharan Wallace, Antonio Thomas and Robert Moore steer Crossland (2-8), which is trying to qualify for its first postseason since 1995. . . . Central (2-8), which has never made the playoffs, had only 18 players show up for the beginning of practice. Seniors Trevel Barlow, DaMarkus Thomas, Asa Canon and Jamar Jennings are the Falcons’ most-promising two-way players.

— Greg Schimmel