No county in Maryland has produced more state titles in boys soccer than Howard, which has totaled a whopping 49 shared among 11 of the 12 public schools.
A number of the teams play in the demanding Class 3A East region, including No. 7 Reservoir (8-2-2), last season's state champion.
Expect another batch of tightly-contested games this season. Whichever team finds a way out of the region will be a favorite to capture another state crown.
Section II of the region appears more competitive with Reservoir and No. 3 River Hill (14-1) -- both with first-round byes -- in the mix and set to open on Tuesday.
The Gators will take on Wilde Lake in their first game -- they beat the Wildecats 2-0 on Oct. 3. River Hill, Howard County co-champs with Marriotts Ridge, waits on today's Atholton-Glenelg winner. The Hawks beat Atholton, 2-0, and nipped Glenelg, 2-1, during the regular season.
River Hill's only loss in the regular season came against Reservoir when David Harris scored in overtime to give the Gators a 1-0 win.
Section I features Mount Hebron (9-3-1) and Centennial (9-4-1) as the prime contenders with Long Reach and three Baltimore City teams -- Digital Harbor, Poly and City -- also in the fold.
To get an idea of just how tough Howard County play is, Long Reach -- the only team not to ever win a state title, only had one league win this year but only lost to Centennial and Mount Hebron by one goal.
A number of teams have players capable of taking over a game. River Hill boasts Jake Turney and Zach Riso and Reservoir leans on Emilio Rodas and Michael Peprah. Heston Priestley is the catalyst for Centennial and Jon Horrocks is Mount Hebron's go-to player.