Since city schools joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association two years ago, the football teams from City and Poly have routinely beaten the opposition by lopsided scores.
Poly (20-3 over that stretch) reached the 3A state semifinals in 1993, and City has gone 18-3 as a 3A school. But winning isn't everything, the teams' coaches say.
"When you're hammering teams like we were, neither side is getting much out of it," said City's George Petrides. "I can't imagine blowing out MSA teams like that."
The 74-year-old Maryland Scholastic Association has since dissolved, with the remaining private schools forming the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association.
But Poly and City (2A programs this year) have included three traditional MSA rivals in their schedules.
Poly already was slated to play such powers as Dunbar, Patterson, City, Prince George's County stalwart Friendly and Delaware nemesis Salesianum before coach Augie Waibel added old MSA rivals Gilman, Loyola and Calvert Hall.
City also added those three, plus MIAA champ Mount St. Joseph, despite already having scheduled Poly, Harford County power C. Milton Wright and Prince George's County's Crossland, ranked No. 8 in The Washington Post's preseason poll.
The renewal of tradition is worth the possibility of losses, Waibel said.
"For those two years, I always had a hard time preparing my teams to take the weaker teams seriously," said Waibel. "There's no problem with motivation in this type of schedule. And the fans will see better games."
Gilman lost to Poly, 14-13, and to City, 12-7, in their final years in the MSA. "Those were very exciting games," said Gilman coach Sherm Bristow, MIAA co-champ with Mount St. Joseph last year. "It's great to have them back."
Several city teams have gone outside of the city and area -- and even the state -- this year for competition, most notably Edmondson, which will play DeMatha, ranked No. 5 in The Washington Post poll, and Potomac of Prince George's County, ranked No. 12 in the D.C. area, along with Howard High, Mussleman (W.Va.), and Glen Mills (Pa).
Dunbar will play Carroll of D.C., ranked No. 4 by The Washington Post, in addition to Douglass (Prince George's) and 4A state runner-up Largo (Prince George's). Walbrook also will play Potomac, Carver will tackle Fairmont Heights (Prince George's), and Lake Clifton will play High Point (Prince George's).
Southern of Baltimore is going to Anne Arundel County to challenge Annapolis and Chesapeake, and Southwestern will play Howard.
Eight new coaches were on the Baltimore County sidelines last year. There will be six this season -- eight if the two teams that played junior varsity schedules the previous two years are counted.
Randallstown, 3A state quarterfinal loser to eventual champ Seneca Valley, will have its third coach in three seasons as former assistant James Carpenter replaces Jack Bush (now defensive coordinator at Central State).
Franklin, winner of last year's 1A-2A title and the only county team with a 10-0 regular-season record, moves up to the county 3A-4A. Rob Smith, a former assistant at John Carroll and Poly, replaces Claude Darr, who retired after 25 seasons.
Longtime coach Frank Ewing retired at Hereford, and Steve Turnbaugh will take over. Nicholas Arminio (Eastern Tech), Reggie Brooks (Milford Mill) and Mike Downes (Sparrows Point) are the county's other new coaches.
Other changes in the county include the elevation of junior varsity programs at Carver A&T;, coached by Pete Skeels, and Western Tech, led by Mark Quillin, to varsity status.
Carver A&T; and Western Tech will join three struggling programs -- Lansdowne, Patapsco and Sparrows Point -- in playing an independent schedule. Lansdowne's 42-game losing streak is the state's longest, and Sparrows Point did not field a varsity team last year.
Harford County will have a first-year team playing an independent schedule, too, as Harford Tech, coached by Joe Foltz, will meet six varsity teams and four JV teams.
Among the eight teams in the county league (former member John Carroll has moved over to the MIAA), it appears last year's co-champions, Aberdeen and C. Milton Wright, should be favored again. They are the ones with depth, including veterans at most of the skill positions.
Bel Air and Fallston could challenge, barring injuries. The other four teams could take turns beating each other. Joppatowne, a Class 1A playoff entry the last six years, has the best numbers among the six, but it is young and may be a year away.