Coach: Pete Welch
Last season: 19-3-1, No. 1
Postseason: MIAA and Maryland Independent Schools champion
Outlook: The Eagles are loaded with talent again this year, with seniors Xavi Ramos (138 pounds) and Tyler Patrick (170), junior Jack Clark (145) and sophomore Myles Martin (152) all ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.
2. Winters Mill
Coach: John Lowe
Last season: 32-0, No. 2
Postseason: 2A-1A state tournament and duals champion
Outlook: The Falcons bring back an experienced squad this season. The four-time defending Carroll County champions are led by senior state champion Wes Cook (145, 152) and their coach, Lowe, who was inducted into Maryland's chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in October.
3. River Hill
Coach: Brandon Lauer
Last season: 32-7, No. 3
Postseason: 4A-3A state tournament champion, duals runner-up
Outlook: The Hawks are ready to defend their Howard County, 4A-3A East regional and state tournament titles with a veteran lineup. Junior Logan Kirby, who finished second in the 195-pound weight class at the state tournament, will lead a balanced team that also includes Taariq Mohammed and Cory Daniel.
4. Archbishop Spalding
Coach: Mike Laidley
Last season: 21-5, No. 4
Postseason: MIAA and MIS runner-up
Outlook: Four National Prep All-Americans -- senior Cole Graves (145), juniors Logan Breitenbach (152) and Mike Still (120), and sophomore Joey Eberhard (120) -- return this year, along with seven other starters. Depth will be key for the Cavaliers, who will be the strongest from the middle to upper weight classes.
5. John Carroll
Coach: Keith Watson
Last season: 22-4, No. 7
Postseason: 5th in MIAA, 9th in MIS
Outlook: The Patriots return five All-Americans in seniors Scott Strappelli (132) and George Weber (138), as well as sophomores Zach Dwyer (120), Hunter Ritter (170) and Christian Almony (152). Their strength will be the level of experience and depth in the lower and middle weight classes.
6. South River
Coach: John Klessinger
Last season: 29-3, unranked
Postseason: 32nd in 4A-3A state tournament, 4A-3A East region duals semifinalist
Outlook: Seven seniors and nine starters return, including twins Austin (126) and Collin Alley (132), as well as Anthony Rossi (195). Offseason work is paying off and team energy is high, leading Klessinger to hope the Seahawks will make an impact heading into the state tournament this season.
7. Owings Mills
Coach: Guy Pritzker
Last season: 23-2, No. 8
Postseason: 6th in 2A-1A state tournament, duals runner-up
Outlook: The Eagles' 2011 season looked like a repeat of 2010 as they finished with 23 wins for the second consecutive year. This year could be as good -- or better -- for Owings Mills as they return nine regional or state place finishers, led by senior transfer Antwan Reddick (145) and senior Demetrius Johnson (152), a 2011 state champion.
Coach: Ron Causey
Last season: 23-6, unranked
Postseason: 31st in 4A-3A state tournament, 4A-3A North region duals runner-up
Outlook: The Bulls, who return all but three starters, will be a force by the end of the season, according to Causey. If his team beats Owings Mills before Christmas, Causey said Hereford will "be very, very good" this season. Junior Anthony Genco (120), a fifth-place finisher in the state tournament last season, leads the Bulls' charge.
Coach: Andrew McIntyre
Last season: 15-8, unranked
Postseason: 35th in 4A-3A state tournament
Outlook: Reservoir will have a balanced attack throughout their starting lineup, anchored by junior Mason Kilcarr (Howard County champion, regional runner-up) and sophomore Sam Rowell (Howard County and regional champion). With 10 starters back, prospects are high for the Gators this season.
10. Mount St. Joseph
Coach: Harry Barnabae
Last season: 4-3, unranked
Postseason: 7th in MIAA, 10th in MIS
Outlook: With a strong nucleus already returning, the Gaels will be further strengthened this season with the additions of Class 4A-3A champion Zeke Salvo (126), a junior transfer from Perry Hall, and freshman Logan Rill, the younger brother of two-time Maryland Independent Schools state champion Tyler Rill.
11. St. Paul's
Coach: Jay Braunstein
Last season: 17-4, No. 6
Postseason: 3rd in MIAA, 4th in MIS
Outlook: The Crusaders are younger than last season, with sophomore Ryan Friedman (45-9 and third at National Preps) and junior Jack Mutchnik (51-11, MIS champion and 5th at National Preps) leading the way. However, they also feature their first complete lineup in more than a decade.
12. Wilde Lake
Coach: Jeff Starnes
Last season: 12-4, No. 14
Postseason: 6th in 4A-3A state tournament
Outlook: The Wildecats survived a midseason coaching change a year ago, emerging stronger after the move. They return 10 starters, including senior Akintola Morakinyo (third place in state at 160 pounds last season), who is wrestling at 170 pounds this season, and Malik Jackson (fourth place in state at 132 pounds), who moves up to 145 this year.
13. Archbishop Curley
Coach: Pat Curran
Last season: 11-4, No. 5
Postseason: 4th in MIAA, 5th in MIS
Outlook: Curran, the Friars' new coach, said his team has a strong will to succeed, strong conditioning and renewed interest this year. Junior Corey Huntley (132), who won the MIAA, MIS and National Preps titles last season, returns, along with Chuck Blankenship (195) and three other seniors.
14. South Carroll
Coach: Bryan Hamper
Last season: 22-5, No. 12
Postseason: 8th in 2A-1A state tournament
Outlook: The Cavaliers lost state champion Willie Reiter to graduation, but senior Steven Schmitz (182), a state runner-up, leads seven returning starters. Holes will be filled by seven freshmen who Hamper said will be strong, including Tom Boldosser (106) and Shane Conners (120).
Coach: Mike Flemming, Jr.
Last season: 24-11, unranked
Postseason: 16th in 2A-1A state tournament
Outlook: With 14 starters returning, the Lions boast a deep squad and they're solid from 120 through 195 pounds. Seniors Casey Shea (138) and Garrett Lewis (182), as well as junior Joe Kuegler (126), provide veteran leadership for Liberty this season.
Others considered: Bel Air (13-6, unranked), Century (25-10, No. 13), Fallston (13-7, unranked), Glenelg (17-5, No. 11), Loyola (17-10, unranked), Perry Hall (14-4, No. 9), Poly (11-1, unranked), Sparrows Point (23-4, unranked)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun