Aberdeen will be after its 12th consecutive Harford County League championship in February, and probably by then coach Dick Slutzky's team will have developed to a point where the race will, once again, be for second place.
Senior Kevin Carter (103 pounds), a county champion last year, and sophomore James Axel (112), a county runner-up, are top returnees for the Eagles, but it is the newcomers who have Slutzky excited.
"It's an excellent group, but very young. They may take awhile to develop," he said.
Aberdeen's starting lineup will include three freshmen and two sophomores when the team opens tomorrow with a quad meet at home.
Mike Babiak (189), who pinned his way through last week's Maryland Catholic Invitational, brings senior leadership and experience to coach Bill Reichert's squad at John Carroll.
Senior A. J. deRosset (145) and junior Steve Trancucci (152), both veterans, each earned a sixth in last week's tournament.
Most of the other teams appear to have similar situations -- young and inexperienced; holes to fill; looking to finish around .500 and perhaps having some individuals advancing to regional and state tournaments.
An exception to the "young and inexperienced" role could be C. Milton Wright, where coach Kenny Bryant has veterans Corey Grace (112), Mike Reilly (125), Dave Schmidt (140, last year's 135-pound county champ) and Mike Brozic (160).
With experience in nine of the 13 weight classes, the Mustangs should be a good tournament team, and Bryant will find out quickly. They are one of six county teams in the North East tournament today and tomorrow.
Besides Carter and Schmidt, the only other returning county champion is Tom Staab of North Harford, who won for the second straight year at 189.
Staab and Sam Collins (152) are the only seniors on coach Fred Holtz' 20-man roster.
At Bel Air, where the numbers are up for coach Craig Reddish, Tim Kuck (130) and Romain Russell (171) are the only seniors.
Seniors John Loss (171/189), Greg Cherry (171/189) and heavyweight Scott Hawk are the leaders at Edgewood. Coach Fred Foster has some holdovers to fill the middle weights, and some quality newcomers in the lower classes.
Fallston coach Andy Amasia has four returnees with varsity experience, including the only seniors on the squad, Tory DellaMea (103) and John Schmuff (189).
Last year's JV squad is expected to pay dividends for coach Gary Siler at Harford Tech, where some of the new faces will be counted upon, especially in the lower weights. Among the holdovers are seniors C.J. Johnson and Leroy Simms.
At Joppatowne, coach Larry Swift's team strength is expected to come from its lower weights, headed by senior Chris Mayer (103), a county runner-up a year ago, and junior Rick Resper (125).
Allen Durham (130), Paul Johnson (152) and Mike Lambert (160) appear to be the top performers for coach Greg Long at Havre de Grace, but the Warriors will not fill enough weight classes to compete as a team.