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Preseason Top 15 football poll

Gilman Greyhounds' Ellison Jordan (42) gestures vs the St. Frances Panthers' during varsity football Friday, Sep 26, 2014. Gilman is ranked No. 1 in the preseason metro area Top 15.
Gilman Greyhounds' Ellison Jordan (42) gestures vs the St. Frances Panthers' during varsity football Friday, Sep 26, 2014. Gilman is ranked No. 1 in the preseason metro area Top 15. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

1. Gilman

Coach: Biff Poggi

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Last season: 8-3, ranked No. 4

Outlook: The Greyhounds took a beating in their first two games last season, falling to St. Edward, Ohio, and Paramus Catholic, N.J., by a combined 73-7, but they went on to claim a share of the MIAA championship, losing only the season finale to McDonogh in overtime. Gilman comes back fully loaded with a huge offensive line, talented junior QB Kasim Hill, lots of receiving targets, a committee of running backs and a stingy defense led by two-time All-Metro DT Ellison Jordan.

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2. McDonogh

Coach: Dom Damico

Last season: 7-3, No. 1

Outlook: The Eagles defeated Gilman, 21-14 in overtime, last fall to clinch a share of the A Conference title after winning it outright in 2013. They have some rebuilding to do on defense, where All-Metro DB Eric Burrell is one of only three returning starters. However, the Eagles have one of the best backs in the area in junior RB Mylique McGriff, who ran 104 times last season for 1,275 yards, and again will have a strong offensive line in front of him.

3. Old Mill

Coach: Chad McCormick

Last season: 11-3, No. 3

Postseason: Class 4A state finalist

Outlook: Last fall's All-Metro Coach of the Year, McCormick took the Patriots from the brink of playoff elimination with an 0-2 start to the state final, where they fell to Northwest, 34-31. Despite graduating a couple of strong running backs, the Patriots return a veteran offensive line and senior QB David Marrocco, who threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns in the state final. The Patriots should make a strong run toward their fourth state final in seven years.

4. Franklin

Coach: Anthony Burgos

Last season: 13-1, No. 2

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Postseason: Class 3A state champion

Outlook: After winning their second straight state title, the Indians faced considerable turnover, especially on offense, where seven starters graduated, including most of their line. Still, they return players ready to step in and add a handful of transfers to bolster both sides of the ball. It doesn't hurt to have the area's top scoring threat in two-time All-Metro WR-KR Steven Smothers, a West Virginia commit who scored four touchdowns in last year's state final.

5. Broadneck

Coach: Rob Harris

Last season: 10-1, No. 7

Postseason: Class 4A East semifinalist

Outlook: The Bruins have only two returning players starting on each side of the ball, but they have plenty of talent aiming to take over the vacated spots. A huge line anchored by veterans Ryan McNeal and Kyle Boston should make life easier for first-year starting QB Emmett Davis and an all-new backfield. The defense is rebuilt around LBs Ali'i Niumatalolo, an All-Metro first-team selection last fall, and Ryan Kennedy, who combined for 148 tackles as juniors.

6. South Carroll

Coach: Steve Luette

Last season: 9-4, not ranked

Postseason: Class 2A state semifinalist

Outlook: Look for a more balanced offense from the Cavaliers, who graduated All-Metro RB Chris Gavin and his Carroll County single-season-record 2,013 rushing yards. Seven or eight starters return on each side of the ball as well as several others with plenty of game experience. The Cavaliers, who fell to eventual champion Douglass-PG in the state semifinal, have a veteran offensive line and depth in the backfield as well as a stronger defense.

7. Howard

Coach: Bruce Strunk

Last season: 12-1, No. 5

Postseason: Class 4A state semifinalist

Outlook: The Lions hadn't won a playoff game since 1999 before they won two last season en route to the state semifinal. The Howard County champions' season ended in a 10-3 loss to Old Mill. They graduated All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year Winston DeLattiboudere III and have just seven starters back, so the Lions are rebuilding on both sides of the ball. Still, they have significant numbers as well as key returning players that include RB Malik Anderson.

8. Calvert Hall

Coach: Donald Davis

Last season: 7-4, No. 9

Outlook: Half of the starters return to a Cardinals team that finished fourth in the MIAA A Conference last season; a lot of players who had valuable game experience also return. Davis has most of the pieces on offense but must replace two-year starting QB Kenji Bahar. Defensively, the Cardinals lost both starting corners, but Nijuel Hill should step into one of those spots. They also bring back a solid linebacking corps, including Tyshon Fogg, who doubles as a safety.

9. Arundel

Coach: Chuck Markiewicz

Last season: 10-2, No. 6

Postseason: Class 4A East regional finalist

Outlook: The Wildcats, one of the area's strongest passing teams in recent years, will take to the ground more this fall with new senior QB Donte Thompson. Top RBs Larry Barnes and Darius Hunter also return from a team that lost to Old Mill in the regional final, 26-21. It might take a little time to get used to the new offense, but look for the Wildcats to challenge Old Mill and Broadneck for the Anne Arundel County and 4A East region titles.

10. Mount Saint Joseph

Coach: Rich Holzer

Last season: 8-3, No. 10

Outlook: Holzer takes over the Gaels program after four years at Meade, where he reached the state semifinals twice. He and a solid core of veterans aim to build on the momentum of last season, when they started 5-0 before finishing 3-3 in the MIAA A Conference. The Gaels, who have said the transition to Holzer has been smooth, bring back starting QB Bryan Costabile, a handful of tested running backs and receivers, and good size on their line.

11. Archbishop Curley

Coach: Sean Murphy

Last season: 10-0, No. 8

Postseason: MIAA B Conference champion

Outlook: The Baltimore area's only undefeated team last season, the Friars graduated about half their starters and their entire offensive backfield. Still, they have a strong offensive line returning, promising talent to fill all the holes and plenty of depth for a run at a third straight B Conference title.

12. Douglass

Coach: Elwood Townsend

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Last season: 12-2, No. 14

Postseason: Class 1A state finalist

Outlook: Injuries and inexperience took a toll on the Ducks as they fell to Fort Hill in the state final for the second straight year. With 12 starters back, second-year quarterback Dariun Miller, a beefed-up secondary and more state tournament experience, Douglass should be ready for the move to Class 3A and a tougher Baltimore City schedule.

13. Meade

Coach: Albert Jones

Last season: 7-3, No. 12

Postseason: None

Outlook: Jones comes back to Meade, where he was an assistant to Holzer before taking over at North County last fall. The Mustangs missed the playoffs last season after two straight trips to the state semifinals. Jones has installed a new offense and a new defense, and he said the transition has gone well. Both lines look solid, and the running game has good potential.

14. Eastern Tech

Coach: Marc Mesaros

Last season: 10-2, not ranked

Postseason: Class 2A North regional finalist

Outlook: The Mavericks will have a new quarterback, but they return almost every other starter — many of them two-way players on a roster of 28. With that experience and a hard-nosed running game, the Mavericks are aiming to get back to the final four for the first time since they won their only title in 2009. They came close last season, falling to Dunbar, 30-28, in the regional final.

15. Glenelg

Coach: Butch Schaffer

Last season: 9-4, not ranked

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: The Gladiators return 11 players from the team that reached the state semifinals for the first time in 14 years. All-Metro offensive lineman David Robbins, now at Florida State, plowed the way for much of their steady running game, but the Gladiators still will have a huge line and they return a 1,500-yard rusher in senior Trey Davis.

Others considered: Aberdeen, Archbishop Spalding, Bel Air, John Carroll, Mervo, Milford Mill, Oakland Mills, Perry Hall, St. Frances

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