Mount Hebron and Oakland Mills start off as the favorites in a season filled with questions.
Can the Vikings fill key holes created by graduation at forward (David Lechtrecker, 27 goals) and at sweeper (Christian Chacon)? Brian Drnec, groomed to take the sweeper's job, was partially paralyzed in a car accident last fall.
The return of 6-foot-5 forward Mike Selawski and the addition of Will Hyde, an Olympic Development Program midfielder from Utah whose club team played in three straight Dallas Cups, should help. The Vikings, a veteran team, have three other ODP players, goalkeeper Greg Peters, midfielder Matt White and midfielder Brian Swiech.
Oakland Mills (17-1-1) suffered heavy losses to graduation; still, the Scorpions have 10 lettermen who played on back-to-back state championship teams. And two more talented players are off the ineligible list this season. Will they be enough?
All-State midfielder Trevor Shea and forward Kyle Farmer (15 goals) are the best-known returning Scorpions.
River Hill (18-1) graduated every starter after winning its third straight state title and has only five seniors, but coach Bill Stara hopes to have enough talent to rebuild quickly. Greg Hinkle, Matt Tedrow, Rizvon Gill, Matt Boras, Dustin Brown and Wes Haynes are the names to watch.
Glenelg (4-7-4) returns nine starters, including outstanding goalkeeper Corey Shea. Others to watch are sweeper Phil Rub, forward Josh Burford, midfielders Eric Kuba and Conner Nixon and stopper Chris Glacken.
Centennial (9-5-3) was the only team to defeat River Hill last season, and the Eagles return five starters and 11 lettermen. Goalkeeper Paul Kraussman is outstanding. Other strong returning players include Greg Wallace, Greg White, Nate Zachman and Vincent Chan.
Wilde Lake (5-8-1) is strong at midfield and forward, questionable on defense and in the goal. Midfielders Dan Mongello and Chad McCarthy will team with Michael Dello-Russo. Should the Wildecats' defense come through they could be formidable.
Howard (6-7-1) has a quality goalkeeper, Derrick Jameson, and a four-year varsity midfielder, Alex Goodman. The Lions should improve.
Atholton's three best players, tri-captains Nick Zaron, Dennis Cook and Jamie Hollander are all sidelined indefinitely with knee injuries.
Hammond (4-10-2) will be led by ODP striker and Baltimore Bays club team member Kakwu Boateng, a skilled sophomore. Others to watch are junior midfielder Paul Prezziotti and senior captain Brian Packer, a fullback.
Long Reach (4-10) graduated six starting seniors. Key players are sweeper Michael Brewrink, forwards Kamhran Mohammed and Ifeanyi Ayetin, stopper Kyle Motto and 6-3 goalkeeper Carter O'Sullivan, a Chapelgate transfer.
Glenelg Country School (8-7) hopes a strong midfield will propel the Dragons into the MIAA C Conference final four again. Adam Weinrub, Patrick Allinson, Tony Dolgoff and Trae Reuwer lead the team.