The race for the county boys soccer title is as cloudy to predict this season as it was a year ago.
Fallston, C. Milton Wright, Bel Air and North Harford should battle it out for this year's title.
However, the Edgewood Rams and the Havre de Grace Warriors have retained lots of talent and could offer a few surprises.
Graduation has hurt Bel Air and Aberdeen.
The Bel Air Bobcats should still have an effect on the title chase but the Aberdeen Eagles, have lost leading scorer Junior Yepez who had 15 goals last year, and will likely finish in the bottom half of the county standings along with Joppatowne.
Despite losing several starters to graduation, the defending Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference champion John Carroll Patriots have gotten off to a 4-0 start this season and could contend for the playoffs.
The county race could rival last year's, which was so close it deserves another look: Bel Air went unbeaten in the county and breezed to the boys soccer title while the contenders -- North Harford, Aberdeen and Edgewood -- finished in a muddled heap.
Fallston, the county champion two years ago, took its lumps during a 3-7 season last year as did C. Milton Wright (4-7 last year).
Bel Air (10-4 overall, 6-0 against the league) did not get to play last year's make up game against C. Milton Wright, but the Bobcats still reached the Class 3A Region III playoffs.
There, the Bobcats whipped top-seeded Kenwood (2-1) on overtime penalty kicks and No. 2 seed Franklin (3-1) to reach the state semifinals. The Bobcats dropped a 5-2 loss to eventual Class 3A co-state champion Howard.
Aberdeen (8-5, 4-3) edged North Harford (6-4-1, 4-2) by .05 of a point to reach the Class 2A Region II playoffs for the first time since the Eagles won the state title in 1978.
The Eagles dropped a first round decision to top-seeded Parkside.
North Harford was hurt by a prep school rule that prohibits high school teams from playing more than three games in a week. Because of the rule, North Harford was not able to play what turned out to be a crucial game against Fallston.
Edgewood (7-5, 4-4) started out fast, including victories over Fallston and Aberdeen, but faded from the race late in the season. The highlight for Havre de Grace (5-9, 2-5) was an upset victory over C. Milton Wright and a Class 1A Regional championship appearance.
In the Maryland Scholastic Association's A Conference, John Carroll finished with a 13-1-3 record, including nine shutouts to win its first title in coach John Hughes' 14 seasons.
As mentioned before, this year's title chase should involve four teams -- C. Milton Wright, Bel Air, Fallston and North Harford.
Each team is probably collectively thinking: "We'll show you we're the best."
We'll have to wait and see, because on any given day, one of them can be surprised.