On attack, senior Gordie Koerber (Denver) will lead the way with juniors Max Greene and Zeke Morrill coming on strong.
"I think we have a chance to have a nice blend of experienced players and hungry, talented, new players," Matthews said. "We will rely on our returning defenders for solid, tough defensive play as our goalies develop."
2011 record: 10-6
Coach John Hanley's quote: "We want to get to the state championship game and win it. We have the core of guys that are capable of getting us there. This year, we have to work together as a team to do that. Last year, we had individuals that helped us win games."
Breakdown: Has the time finally come for the Raiders to advance to the Class 2A-1A state championship game?
Hanley feels especially good about the quality and depth at every position for Loch Raven to make another serious run.
Seniors Ben Jones (York College) and Trey Mostyn (Goucher College) lead a defense that also includes Dimitri Sidou.
"Both Trey and Ben consistently play at a high level," Hanley said. "I think our defense will be stingy."
They should be a stingy group playing in front of improving junior goalie Brandon Glorioso, a two-year starter.
"He is a converted defenseman, who has been working very hard," Hanley said. "He has been working in the fall, summer and winter to improve his game."
Loch Raven might not score as much last year with the graduation of JB Cadorette (56 goals) and Wes Dingman (29), but should have plenty of firepower with senior attacker Kevin Friant (48 goals, 19 assists) and the emergence of Fotis Solomonides.
Seniors Greg Harper and Austin Perry, juniors Jack Voelker and Mike Ferris and sophomore Bryce Spruill will get the most midfield minutes.
"We have a lot of guys that worked hard in the offseason to get better," Hanley said. "It will help us to take that step to the next level."
2011 record: 8-10
Coach Jack Crawford's quote: "The league will be tough as usual, but we feel our strong senior class will keep us in the hunt."
Breakdown: Although the Dons finished with a rare sub-.500 mark last spring and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time in recent memory, they have the potential for a big turnaround season.
And a major upgrade is expected from a team that averaged nearly 13 wins from 2005-2010 with a couple of A Conference crowns as well.
Athletic middie Deemer Class (Duke), steady linemate TJ Neubauer (Fairfield) and faceoff specialist Kacy Kapinos (Ohio State), with longstick standouts Matt Dunn (Maryland), Cole Luthy and Ryan Gilliss spearheading the defense, make Loyola formidable.