2010 record: 7-3
First game: Sept. 2 vs. Boys' Latin, 7 p.m.
Offensive starters returning: 5
Defensive starters returning: 4
Fast fact: Catonsville has made the playoffs four of seven years under coach Rich Hambor.
Keys to success: The Comets need to utilize their tremendous speed and get the ball in the hands of their playmakers.
Outlook: The move up to Class 4A from 3A presents the Comets with a tougher schedule, but one that will provide the home fans with several compelling games.
After only playing four regular-season home games last season, Catonsville hosts six games starting with Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference foe Boys' Latin.
Perry Hall (Sept. 9), Franklin (Sept. 23), Hereford (Sept. 30), Eastern Tech (Oct. 6) and Milford Mill (Oct. 21) will also be featured on the stadium turf.
That turf will be dotted with speed burners for the Comets, starting with tailbacks DeAndre Lane (5-9, 175) and Jerome Williams (5-10, 175).
Lane, a junior who was promoted from junior varsity late last season, ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the University of Maryland football camp.
Williams, a senior, is coming off a season in which he gained 576 yards (8.3 per carry) and scored eight touchdowns.
"I think our speed this year is going to allow us instead of going 4, 4 and 4 yards we may go 2, 2 and 15 yards," Hambor said. "We are going to take advantage of the corners more on sweeps and throw the ball around more."
Senior quarterback Aaron Jones (6-3, 185) has a talented trio of targets in senior wideouts Deniko Carter (6-5, 180) and Sean Lipscomb (6-4, 185) and tight end Julian Jones (6-2, 205).
"Aaron Jones has really progressed very well as a quarterback since last year," Hambor said. "He is a lot more confident and really relaxed and calm in the huddle."
Jones, who threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in 2010, is backed up by juniors Justin Sprankle (5-8, 170) and Brian Howard (5-10, 160).
Carter, an all-state honorable mention selection caught 13 passes (22.5 yards per catch) for 292 yards and six touchdowns.
"Deniko is No. 1 by far, but Sean would be a No. 1 on a lot of teams in the county," Hambor said.
He and Julian Jones (8 receptions, 223 yards, 4 TDs) were on the all-county first team.
Juniors Devin Ray (6-0, 235) and Julian Singletary (6-2, 220) will share the fullback slot vacated by Tyler Weedon, who is now playing at Wesley College in Dover, Del.
Weedon ran for 722 yards and 12 touchdowns and was a four-time all-state selection at linebacker.
Seniors Justin Cox (5-6, 160), Josh Hylton (5-8, 170) and Donnie Wiggins (5-9, 180) and junior Keon Webb (5-4, 150) will fill out the backfield and seniors JaVaughn Eggleston (5-10, 160), Kevin Hendrix (6-0, 185) and Troy Redd (5-8, 160) and junior Troy Jones (6-0, 170) are reserve wideouts.
The only varsity veteran on the interior line is senior Antoine Wright (5-11, 265).
"He is our best linemen," Hambor said. "He's our leader and he has been through 10 games as a starter and he's a smart kid."
New starters up front include seniors Nathan Reeves (5-9, 190), Jon Reymann (6-1, 220) and Tyrone Parker (6-0, 255) and junior Brandon Dixon (5-10, 195).
Seniors Travis Davis (6-1, 225) and Aaron Watkins (6-1, 255) and juniors T.J. Henry (6-1, 225), Mason Klompus (6-1, 255), Nate Pointer (6-1, 250) and Cheldon Simon (6-0, 220) are also vying for a spot on the line.
Mainstays on defense include, Carter, Williams, Lane and senior Joe Tebo (5-10, 175) in the secondary with senior Josh Frazier (6-1, 175) and juniors Andre Henderson (5-5, 145), Nigel Minter (5-6, 150), Sy Rivera (5-10, 180) and Anthony Wynn (5-7, 175) backing them up.
Josh Hylton (5-8, 170) and junior Joseth Hylton (5-8, 155) will fill the linebacker spots along with Singletary or Ray.
Seniors John Snowden (5-9, 190) and Wiggins should also fill in at linebacker.
Julian Jones and Lipscomb bookend the defensive line with senior nose tackle Josh Schmidt (5-7, 170) manning the middle.
Seniors Anton Brown (6-2, 265), Andre McGinnis (6-1, 255), Alex Pearson (6-1, 250), Will Reynolds (5-10, 220) and Childs and juniors Tyrone Ali (6-1, 170) and Darius Wiliams (5-10, 215) may help out on the defensive line.
Senior Eric Medinger (6-3, 205) handles the punting and kicking chores and ideally he will be kicking more extra points than punts.
"We are very fast and we have a lot of game-breaking ability, more than we've had in a long time," Hambor said.
2010 record: 11-1
First game: Sept. 9 at Lansdowne, 7 p.m.
Offensive starters returning: 5
Defensive starters returning: 5
Fast fact: Last season's 11-1 record was the best football record ever in the school's history.
Keys to success: The Wolverine veterans must carry over the winning attitude and maintain chemistry as younger players develop.
Outlook: The transfer of senior quarterback Juleon Killikelly-Lee leaves a void that coach Alan Lagon hopes to fill with first-year sophomore Jamal Pryor (6-1,168).
"He's been a pleasant surprise," Lagon said. "He's catching on pretty quickly."
Pryor will count on junior fullback Payton Beachum (5-11, 210) to get a bulk of the handoffs with senior tailbacks Malik Carver (5-9, 169) and Anthony Golden (5-9, 174).
Senior wideout Thomas Moore (6-1, 170) are major receiving threats while seniors Kenny Fleet (5-8, 158) and Demetrious Chisolm (5-6, 143) should get looks.
Protecting the quarterback will be the capable line of seniors Elliot Bishop (6-2, 200), Brian Njoku (6-1, 245), Kevin Floyd-Harrsion (6-0, 255) and Pat Brown (6-3, 277) and junior Wasem Mansour (5-9, 244).
Floyd-Harrison is a three-year varsity starter who earned all-county accolades last season and Brown returns after missing last season with a broken wrist.
Lagon is excited about his team's size with the biggest weapon being junior defensive tackle Duane Lucas (6-1, 357).
"I think we probably have the biggest team size-wise we've had in 10 years," said Lagon, in his eighth season.
Lucas will be paired with Floyd-Harrison and Njoku and junior Kristian Simon (5-10, 220) are the ends.
Golden, Beachum and juniors Chris Freeman (5-7, 153) and Justin Streater (5-5, 168) comprise the linebacking corps.
Cornerbacks are juniors Blair Awkward (5-8, 173) and Evens Cross 5-7, 155) and Moore and junior Jerome Sheldon (5-9, 145) are the safeties.
Size and team chemistry are the strengths.
"I really like the camaraderie and they are really good group of kids," Lagon said. "I really like the team attitude."
Although they lost Killikelly-Lee and graduates Kane Parson (Concord University), Carlton Harris (West Virginia Weslyan), Woly Olugbemi (Albright College), Lagon is confident in his veteran leaders.
"The expectations are really high and they kind of appreciate that and they are trying to maintain it," Lagon said.
Mount St. Joseph
2010 record: 4-6
First game: Sept. 1 vs. Friendship Collegiate, at Bowie State University, 7 p.m.
Offensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters returning: 5
Fast fact: Mount St Joseph senior Sam Benjamin has committed to Temple University and senior Angelo DeShields will play for Stony Brook University.
Keys to success: The Gaels' fate rests on finding a quarterback who will take over as a leader and secure the position.
The battle for the signal-calling job is between junior Luke Casey (6-4, 190) and sophomore Bryan Jangro (5-9, 150).
Casey started toward the end of last season.
Early in the season, they have the luxury of handing off to talented junior running backs Drexel Mosby (5-4, 155) and Carey Wells-Jowers (5-9, 200).
"Both of them are very good football players," said second-year coach Blake Henry. "We'll be running the ball a lot more this year."
Sophomore fullback Daniel Hawkins (5-11, 200) joins the backfield.
They'll tread behind of line that includes seniors Hunter Eubanks (G, 6-2, 300) and Thomas Demetriou (T, 6-1, 260) on the left side and senior Alex Bielaski (G, 6-0, 260) and Pat O'Connell (T, 6-0, 255) on the right.
Sophomore Shane Lowman (6-1, 270) takes over at center and Marcus Alston (6-1, 205) is the tight end.
Eubanks and Demetriou are anchors on the defensive line with nose guard Kyle Ockenfels (5-10, 265) and defensive end Uriah Cunningham (6-0, 215).
Well-Jower mans middle linebacker where he'll be flanked by Jermari Alston (5-10, 180) and Bryan Royster (5-11, 205).
Benjamin and DeShields are the safeties while Jacob Forrest-Jones (5-9, 155) holds down one cornerback position and Dwayne Brown (5-8, 145) and Avery Varnado (5-10, 170) vie for the other cornerback slot.
Henry is confident the Gaels will be tougher in the trenches because they put in the hard work in the off-season.
"Their dedication in the weight room in the winter and spring is going to pay off," Henry said.
Henry is also pleased with his senior class and the prospects of underclassmen that includes five freshmen and eight sophomores.
"It's a good mix of guys," he said.