Just days away from the high school football kickoff for most teams in the Baltimore area, The Baltimore Sun is counting down its preseason Top 5.
Monday, we began out countdown with No. 5 Franklin, and we will continue to count down each morning, concluding with our No. 1 on Thursday night.
Friday morning in The Sun and on baltimoresun.com, we will reveal the entire Top 15 poll as well as players to watch.
Next in our Top 5 rollout...
No. 4 Broadneck
Coach: Rob Harris
Last season: 8-4, No. 7
Postseason: Class 4A East region finalist
First game: Vs. Bowie, Saturday, 1 p.m. UPDATED
Players to watch: WR Ethon Williams, Jr.; QB Shane Davis, Sr.; RB Jason Carcamo, Jr.; OT Caelan Shepard, Jr.; LB Steven Jacobs, Sr.; S Zach Doyle, Sr.; S Alex Roland, Sr.; DE Noah Genovese, Sr.; OL Peyton Stickle, Jr.; DB Nicky Orofino, Sr.
Outlook: The Bruins graduated 23 seniors, but that’s not a lot for a Class 4A program. They still return a strong core of starters with eight back on offense and seven on defense.
After reaching the state semifinals in 2015, Broadneck fell in the Class 4A East region final to Annapolis, 48-34, last fall. That was a better showing than the regular-season 40-19 loss to the Panthers, but not enough to get the Bruins back to the state semifinals for the eighth time in program history.
Now Broadneck returns every offensive skill player except one and has seven three-year starters on defense. That experience should bode well for the annual slugfest at the top of the Anne Arundel County league.
With so many veterans, the Bruins appear to be the team to beat. Defending county champion Old Mill, which went undefeated last fall until Broadneck pulled a 20-17 upset in the region opener, has a lot of rebuilding to do, as does Annapolis. Arundel brings back a high-powered offense but has revamped a defense that struggled last season.
Bruins quarterback Davis is back, and Harris expects a big season from his smart, accurate passer. Not afraid to stand in the pocket and take a hit, Davis, 6 feet, 155 pounds, has drawn a lot of interest from Division III coaches, and Harris expects him to move up in the recruiting ranks with a strong senior showing.
One of his top targets, Williams, was an All-Metro first-team player as a sophomore. He averaged 17.5 yards per catch on 50 receptions and scored 10 touchdowns. His summer 7-on-7 season brought the 6-foot, 185-pound junior an offer from West Virginia.
Senior slot receiver Ty Vermillion is also aiming for a big year after a strong summer.
At running back, the Bruins return the speedy Carcamo, who ran for about 1,200 yards last season. Senior Tyrese Watson provides the complement as a power back.
Shepard, at 6-6, 315 pounds, anchors the line at one tackle with 5-11, 240-pound Andrew Weissinger at the other. Junior Luke Del Rosario, 5-10, 240 pounds, will play left guard with junior Justin Fogt, 5-10, 230 pounds, battling for right guard. Stickle, 5-9, 255 pounds, will start at center.
“We’re pumped about our skill guys and having three of our linemen back,” Harris said. “We’re very excited to see what they’re going to do. We had a good summer of 7-on-7. We made the final four at Towson and played well at West Virginia. It’s nice having a returning quarterback. That’s such a luxury now days, especially with losing those practice days [Anne Arundel County began practice three days later than the rest of the area public school teams].”
On defense, the Bruins return seven starters.
Genovese will anchor the defensive line. at 6-3, 240 pounds. He’s drawing Ivy League attention with his game and 4.4 GPA.
The Bruins have four solid linebackers in returnees Jacobs and junior Matt McAllister, both returning starters, as well as transfers, senior Brent Floyd and junior Carlos Coates.
At defensive back, Keonte Coates returns for a third year as a starter. Coates, 5-7, 185 pounds, has rebounded from a couple of knee injuries earlier in his career to have a full summer of workouts. Harris calls him “pound-for-pound our hardest hitter.”
Starters at safety are also back: Roland, Orofino and Doyle, timed 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Harris said his defense is smart, fast and aggressive. Last year, it gave up more than two touchdowns only four times but lost three of those games.
Overall with 15 starters back, the Bruins hope to take a stab at their first state title. Their only trip to the title game came in 2003.
“We’re pretty complicated offensively and defensively, so it does take our kids a little bit longer to figure it out, but when they do, we have a chance to be a pretty special team and we think we can be this year. We’ve got to stay healthy. We don’t have much depth, especially on the offensive line. … I don’t think we’re going to surprise. I think everybody in the county thinks we’re going to be pretty good.”
After opening against Bowie, the Bruins head to North County on Sept. 8. Some of their biggest games come Sept. 22 at Arundel, Oct. 6 at Old Mill and, to close the season, Nov. 3 against Annapolis at home.