It's not necessarily an abundance of talent, but a solid team chemistry that should keep Howard among the county's best squads.
The cohesiveness is a new factor for fourth-year coach Fred Bullock, whose Lions were 8-3 last year and third in the county.
"The personalities blend better this year than in previous years that I've been here," Bullock said. "The kids help each other and better teaching among them will make for a better team."
The Lions also have experience and leadership with junior Eric Paskin (145/152 pounds) and seniors Brian Elphage (125), Preston Murfin (140) and Seth Eldridge (160). They are all captains with potential for success, Bullock said.
Paskin, who wrestled at 171 in his first two years, is competing in his ideal classes for the first time.
"He wrestled a lot over the summer with freestyle wrestling, and now we've got to make sure he gets back to high school wrestling," Bullock said.
Elphage has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons.
Murfin is coming off an 18-6 season in which he placed third in the county at 135 and third in regionals at 145. Bullock calls him a "counter-puncher who doesn't have crushing strength, but is real knowledgeable about the sport."
Eldridge was 23-6 and fourth in the county and third in regionals at 152. He is a fourth-year wrestler who lacks a standout move, but fills the void with intensity.
"He's the kind of kid who just wrestles along and he's leading 7-0," Bullock said. "It's not like you could say he did a good tilt or a good [duck-under]. He just doesn't like to lose."
In Bullock's mind, Hammond is the team to beat for the No. 1 spot. Can Howard dethrone last season's county champ?
"We hope to finish first. It's definitely within the realm of possibility," he said. "It's often times more difficult to stay No. 1 than to become No. 1. There's enough balance in the county to where there can be challenges from other teams."