Can Dunbar reclaim its glory?

Last year's Poets, of then first-year coach Ben Eaton, missed the postseason for the first time since city schools joined the state association in 1993. Dunbar's run under then-coach Stan Mitchell included five straight state semifinal berths and two state titles in three title game appearances.

After a season of adjustment and a 5-5 finish, Eaton appears to have the players' attention. The Poets will have to hurdle such formidable opponents as Patterson, the defending City East Division champ, along with City, Poly and Mount St. Joseph.

Will Long Reach and River Hill crack Howard County's upper echelon?

Long Reach and River Hill are fourth-year programs with senior-dominated rosters. Still, 15-time county champ Wilde Lake and defending Class 1A state champ Oakland Mills are the teams to beat, even though they are in relative rebuilding seasons.

High school sports is littered with stories of how tradition wilts expectations of a breakthrough season. Will this be the legacy of Howard's two newcomers?

Has Annapolis-Severna Park, one of Anne Arundel County's fiercest rivalries, lost its luster?

For 40 years and 41 meetings, there was little in the way of intensity that could rival the regular-season ending Annapolis-Severna Park game. The game almost always carries county title or playoff implications.

But league restructuring has forced the contest to be moved to Oct. 8 at Severna Park. Though new season-enders, such as Annapolis-Broadneck and Glen Burnie-North County, offer neighborhood rivalries, it remains to be seen whether they can match Annapolis-Severna Park in intensity, timeliness or importance.

Can Hereford remain a force playing every game on the road?

Because Bulls Stadium is being renovated, Hereford must play all 10 of its games on the road, beginning with difficult contests at Kenwood, Loch Raven and Catonsville. The Bulls needed 15 points in the final 35 seconds to secure last year's win at Loch Raven.

But Hereford is 34-3 in the last three seasons, including a 13-0 run to the Class 1A state title in 1997. In that stretch, the Bulls' were 16-0 on the road.

Is Westminster ready to dethrone North Carroll?

Westminster finished 6-4 last year, its first winning season since 1990. Coach Scott Tobias, in his seventh year with the Owls, had his largest varsity turnout (47) this summer and said he has "more depth than ever."

Now, the Owls are looking for their first playoff berth since 1981.

Westminster's returning starters include the quarterback, two running backs and four offensive linemen. The defense also came back nearly intact.

Can this year's Harford County teams rival last year's success?

C. Milton Wright, Bel Air and John Carroll ended last season ranked Nos. 5, 6 and 15, respectively. Edgewood's playoff campaign included a win over Wright. Bel Air upset defending state champ Wilde Lake, John Carroll topped Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference power Mount St. Joseph, and Wright stopped Damascus, a Montgomery County force.

Scooter Monroe, now a freshman at Maryland, was among the county's 12 All-Metro picks and one of five first-teamers.

The road seems tougher this season, however, with Wright taking on possibly Westminster's best team ever, Carroll County contender South Carroll and Northern-Calvert. Bel Air visits Wilde Lake and plays host to Montgomery County's Georgetown Prep and defending Class 2A state champion Urbana. Aberdeen also meets Urbana and Class 3A state runner-up Eastern Tech.

Top coaches

Here are the Baltimore area's top 10 winningest active coaches:

Name, School .................................W-L-T

Doug DuVall, Wilde Lake ..............219-51

Joe Brune, Loyola ......................194-24-4

Roger Wrenn, Patterson ............172-82-2

Pete Pompey, Edmondson ............170-88

Terry Ward, Overlea .................162-112-2

George Petrides, City .................142-87-1

Joe Russo, Hammond ...................118-93

Steve Harward, C.M.Wright ...........114-31

Obie Barnes, For. Park ............107-103-6

Dave Summy, S. River ...............95-106-1

Pub Date: 9/02/99

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