Montgomery 4A East

Favorite: Paint Branch (9-2)

The Panthers will have to overcome playing without a home field for the third season in a row, but they have the talent to do it. Seniors Thomas Lucas (Connecticut) and Jonathan Quigley (Hampton) headline a roster packed with two-way players.

Best rivalry: Sherwood vs. Paint Branch (Oct. 19)

If Paint Branch is going to secure supremacy in the East, it will probably have to go through the perennial power Sherwood (6-4) to do so.

Players to watch: OL/DL Peter Angeh, Blake (6-2, 240, Sr.); RB/DB Richie DiPietro, Sherwood (5-11, 195, Sr.); WR/DB Johnny Littlejohn, Paint Branch (6-1, 180, Jr.); LB/WR Thomas Lucas, Paint Branch (6-1, 180, Sr.); RB/LB Fitz Mofor, Sherwood (6-1, 230, Sr.).

— Roman Stubbs

Montgomery 4A South

Favorite: Churchill (10-2)

Coming off a spirited run to the Maryland 4A West final, the Bulldogs must break in four new starting offensive linemen as senior QB Jonathan Lee takes over the triple-option attack.

Best rivalry: Churchill vs. Whitman (Sept. 7)

Whitman won the crosstown matchup in 2009 and 2010 on the way to the state playoffs, but Churchill got its revenge with a 21-7 road victory last season.

Players to watch: FB Cory Applequist, Bethesda-Chevy Chase (5-10, 185, Sr.); DE/TE Charlie Barry, Walter Johnson (6-2, 210, Sr.); WR/DB Trevon Diggs, Wootton (5-10, 135, Fr.); LB Blake Dove, Churchill (5-10, 190, So.); OL Darrion Locke, Churchill (6-3, 340, Sr.); DL Nick Sobczyk, Whitman (6-4, 250, Sr.); DB/WR Dominique Williams, Churchill (6-1, 170, Sr.).

— Eric Detweiler

Montgomery 4A West

Favorite: Quince Orchard (13-1)

Coach Dave Mencarini, the 2011 All-Met Coach of the Year, has a star-studded roster that includes the region’s top linebacker tandem in Marcus Newby (Nebraska) and Tyrell Williams.

Best rivalry: Quince Orchard vs. Northwest (Sept. 21)

Northwest has a strong core of veterans, including one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Matty Callahan. A trip to Quince Orchard, which lost in last year’s Maryland 4A final in overtime, could show how elite the Jaguars really are in 2012.

Players to watch: QB Matty Callahan, Northwest (5-11, 170, Sr.); LB Marcus Newby, Quince Orchard (6-1, 210, Sr.); RB Naim Reid, Clarksburg (6-1, 195, Sr.); OL/DL Ben Rockwood, Gaithersburg, (6-1, 225, Sr.); Solomon Vault, Gaithersburg, (5-10, 165, Sr.); FB/LB Tyrell Williams, Quince Orchard (6-0, 190, Sr.).

— Roman Stubbs

Montgomery 3A

Favorite: Damascus (9-3)

The Swarmin’ Hornets hope to extend their state record for consecutive playoff berths to 15 this fall behind two-way standout Zach Bradshaw, who is orally committed to Virginia.

Best rivalry: Damascus vs. Seneca Valley (Oct. 26)

The county’s most decorated programs have combined for 19 state titles. The teams had split their past six meetings before Seneca Valley’s 29-19 victory last season.

Players to watch: WR/LB Zach Bradshaw, Damascus (6-3, 205, Sr.); RB James Jones-Williams, Seneca Valley (5-8, 195, Sr.); WR Kevin Joppy, Seneca Valley (5-9, 165, Jr.); DB/WR Quinton Littlejohn, Watkins Mill (5-11, 165, Sr.); QB Sean Loftus, Einstein (6-1, 190, Sr.); RB/DB Jabari Robinson, Northwood (5-10, 170, Sr.); LB George Vinson, Damascus (6-0, 200, Sr.).

— EricDetweiler