The noteworthy lacrosse trends for 1995 include: a possible third straight county title for Centennial; the return of an unusual number of outstanding offensive players; more players than ever committed to play at the college level; and continued turnover in the coaching ranks.
This year also marks the return of the varsity Wilde Lake lacrosse team after a one-year hiatus due to lack of participants.
State Class 3A-4A finalist Centennial ended up as county tri-champs with Glenelg and Oakland Mills last season, after suffering a surprising upset at the sticks of Oakland Mills. The Eagles averaged 9.5 goals and allowed five.
This season the Eagles should be even stronger. All but two starters are back. And they've picked up two transfers at midfield, Dave Peek from Chicago and Jason Newman from Mount St. Joseph where he was a leading scorer.
"We're more experienced this year so we'll be letting them play more on their own and make decisions," coach Mike Siegert said. "This is a team dominated by seniors."
Oakland Mills is expected to offer Centennial its toughest challenge, followed by Mount Hebron.
But Mount Hebron graduated its All-County goalkeeper, Sean Buchanon, and Oakland Mills graduated its top two scorers, Dan Hart and Chris Cosentino.
Scoring is one area that the league should excel at this season. Eight of the top 12 scorers from last season are back.
Centennial returns Dave Saunders (36 goals, 17 assists), Tony Harding (24, 21) and Rob Hauff (22, 22). Saunders was extremely accurate, shooting 69 percent (35-for-81).
Hauff already is Centennial's career leader in assists with 80. And he is 10 goals away from the career scoring lead. He led the county with 170 ground balls.
The Centennial co-captain and The Baltimore Sun's Howard County Player of the Year saw his offensive output drop last season after he switched from attack to midfield. Hauff's sophomore numbers were 42 goals and 52 assists.
Iggy Levelev (29, 20) is a potent scorer who returns for Oakland Mills, and his numbers are expected to soar.
Mount Hebron's Scott Baughman (25, 28), whom many coaches consider the best overall player in the county, would have had much better numbers if not for a shoulder injury that shortened his season to 10 games.
The first-team All-County midfielder won 70 percent (80-for-114) of his faceoffs and scooped up 109 ground balls, including a school-record 17 against Centennial.
Glenelg is a team heavy with freshmen and sophomores and ripe with scoring potential. Junior Chris Forespring (19, seven), sophomore Conner Pett (20, seven) and junior Greg Edell (17, 42) are back. Edell, a first-team All-County pick, broke a school record and led the league in assists. And he finished second in the county in scoring.
Other big scorers returning are Glenelg Country School's Risto Worthington (32, 22) and Chris Lehman (30, six).
The expected increase in offensive output will be assisted by the graduation of last season's top two goalkeepers, Buchanon and Glenelg's Toby Heusser.
Centennial, not surprisingly, leads the way with players expected to participate at the college level next season with 10.
Hauff and Matt Rainwater will play for North Carolina on partial scholarships. Saunders and Steve Puckett will play for Washington and Lee, a Division III school in Lexington, Va.
Chris Cochran will play for Yale. Jeff Ianarrino will play for Drexel. Jason Newman is headed for Maryland.
Joe Lowrance will attend either UMBC or Delaware. Brian Harding hasn't decided between Drexel and Delaware. Tony Harding intends to play club ball at Virginia Tech.
Mount Hebron's Baughman will play for Georgetown on a partial scholarship.
Atholton now has six players from last season's team playing college ball, including Tony Vallance and Mike Marycz at Penn State, Adam Shaivitz at Cornell, Matt Treese at Towson, Chris Buscher at Catonsville and Dan Garrison (club ball at West Virginia).
The coaching ranks continue to undergo a shake-up. The most stunning loss was Howard's veteran Dan Ross, who is now the weight-training coach at Loyola College.
Ross coached at Howard since 1974 and his teams won two state titles, eight county titles and 10 or more games all but four seasons.
Replacing him is Glenn Lentz, who teaches at Gateway School and lives in Severna Park. Lentz has played and coached lacrosse at Archbishop Spalding. He also played at Anne Arundel Community College and currently plays for the Annapolis Lacrosse Club. He is on the Board of Directors for the Anne Arundel Hero's League.
Coach Phil Stephenson stepped down at Oakland Mills, but his replacement is no stranger to the Scorpions.
Ken Hovet, who coached the offense last season, moves into the head role. Hovet is also head football coach for Oakland Mills.
Finally, the lacrosse situation at Wilde Lake has recovered enough so that the Wildecats can field a team after folding last season. But the situation still is not ideal.
The Wildecats must practice at Harper's Choice Middle School while Wilde Lake is being rebuilt.
And the 24-man roster already has shrunk due to some injuries, accidents and illnesses.
Team leader John Beakes, Wilde Lake's best offensive player, was involved in an automobile accident last week, and his future participation is uncertain.
"Then we had an attackman come down with mono, a defenseman come down with food poisoning and one of our best freshmen has cracked ribs," said coach Mike Harrison. "It's been a tough go so far."