1.Gilman

Coach: Biff Poggi. Last season: 7-3, ranked No. 4. Postseason: N/A, MIAA A Conference regular-season champion.

Outlook: With much of their starting lineup back, including the area's top recruit in quarterback Darius Jennings, the Greyhounds boast the experience, running game and defense to make a run at their 10th A Conference title in 15 years. Ranked seventh in the East region by USA Today, they face a stellar out-of-conference schedule, opening with perhaps the best team in Maryland, Good Counsel, on Saturday night at Towson University.


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2. Old Mill

Coach: Damian Ferragamo. Last season: 12-2, No. 1. Postseason: Class 4A state champion.

Outlook: The Patriots have some huge holes to fill after graduating 13 starters. Their entire backfield is gone, including co-Offensive Player of the Year Josh Furman, but they should continue to run the ball well behind an experienced offensive line. The defense is small but experienced. Look for the Patriots to be in the thick of a tough Anne Arundel County race.

3. Arundel

Coach: Chuck Markiewicz. Last season: 11-1, No. 3. Postseason: Class 3A East regional finalist.

Outlook: The Wildcats bring back only four starters each way, but that's deceiving, because most guys saw action as they outscored the opposition by an average of 29 points. Gone is record-setting quarterback Billy Cosh, a co-Offensive Player of the Year, but the Wildcats won't change their offense and Nick Rosati will step in to run it.

4. River Hill

Coach: Brian Van Deusen. Last season: 12-1, No. 2. Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist.

Outlook: A turnover-laden 10-7 state semifinal loss to Huntingtown ended their 40-game win streak, but the Hawks have dusted themselves off and aim for an eighth straight Howard County title and a third state crown. Most of their backfield returns, but they will need to reload their line after graduating four exceptional starters.

5. Broadneck

Coach: Jeff Herrick. Last season: 8-2, No. 13. Postseason: None.

Outlook: The Bruins finished strong last season with a win over Old Mill, which went on to win the state Class 4A crown, but it wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs. With loads of experience (32 seniors), an exceptional defense and a strong kicking game, they are aiming for their first playoff berth in three years.

6. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Mike Whittles. Last season: 10-1, No. 10. Postseason: MIAA B Conference champion.

Outlook: The Cavaliers avenged their only regular-season loss with a 12-0 B Conference title-game victory over Boys' Latin. They boast a cadre of strong running backs and a veteran quarterback among their 13 returning starters, but there are some questions about the line. The tests come early with Gilman, Calvert Hall and Loyola within the first four weeks.

7. Calvert Hall