The Wilde Lake Wildecats expect to improve under fifth-year coach Dave Nesbitt.
The Wildecats struggled to a 2-8-1 record in 1992 and beat only Mount Hebron in league competition.
This year's team has six returning starters, but is small and young. Nesbitt likely will give considerable playing time to two freshmen and two sophomores.
The key to Wilde Lake's success ultimately may rest upon its goalkeeping. Senior David Rutstein and junior John Beakes are vying for the position.
"We must play very good defense and finish our offensive opportunities," Nesbitt said. "If we do, then teams that take us lightly may be surprised."
Wilde Lake returns two scoring threats in senior strikers Kwesi Ewol-Robotham and Brian Jefferson, who led the team in scoring last season with four goals and two assists.
Ewol-Robotham is an excellent dribbler and ballhandler with outstanding speed who has played three seasons. The tri-captain needs to improve his finishing ability for the Wildecats to have a successful season.
Wilde Lake was shut out in four of seven league contests and scored only five goals in league play last season.
Junior and tri-captain Jeff Curtis spearheads the defense at sweeper, replacing graduated impact player Corey Sautter.
"Technically, [Curtis] is one of the best in the county," Nesbitt said. But he's not big (5 feet 6) so he gets overlooked. He's a leader."
The third captain, senior Gianpaulo Einaudi, leads the midfield.
Junior Gavin Phillip is another veteran midfielder along with senior Alex Kolliebo.
The freshmen who may start are midfielder Dave Briefel and fullback Naa Robotham, Kwesi's brother.
Sophomore Mike Riismandel has also looked good at midfield. Sophomore Carl Jackson is a 6-foot-7 forward who should help on dead-ball plays.
"We have a good nucleus and I look for us to finish in the upper middle of the county," Nesbitt said. "Hopefully we've learned some lessons and will make fewer mental mistakes this season."
Wilde Lake was a state Class 1A champion two years ago and some think the Wildecats may be good enough to make another run at a state title.
They've picked up two new Class 1A opponents in Fallston and Poolesville. Fallston is defending 1A state champions.