Poly and Friends enter the season with unaccustomed titles:
Archbishop Curley, on the other hand, looks to defend one of the program's many titles in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference -- but they're doing it under a first-year coach, Barry Stitz, a recent retiree from the National Professional Soccer League's Baltimore Blast.
Baltimore's Greater Grace Christian looks to earn its fifth Maryland Christian crown and its third consecutive title in the National Christian tournament. It returns first-team All-City/County striker, Derek McElligott (140 career goals).
In the city's public school league, Poly dethroned four-time Baltimore City kingpin Patterson en route to a 10-1-1 finish. Coach Robert McComas-Wood returns nine starters who think they can do it again.
The Engineers' drive begins with senior midfielder-forward-defender Edikan Bassey, a second-team all-city/county pick, and ends with the returning senior goalkeeper Eric Roberts.
Forwards Corey Cascio and Louie DeCarlo, midfielders Victor Anagywe and Scott Corden and defenders Matt McComas-Wood, Keith Jackson and Rio Tatum-Jerrell represent an experienced corps.
"The kids know what I'm looking for, so we're a little ahead of last year," said McComas-Wood. "Plus, I have a lot more kids with club experience."
Patterson (7-5) is not exactly lacking in talent either. It is led by second-team all-city/county midfielder Bobby Oxendine and midfield mate Gino Zarro, who are among six returning starters.
In the MIAA A Conference, Archbishop Curley may not play a home game until midway through the season because its field is being renovated and irrigation systems put in.
Stitz, who took over last spring for retired Tom "Pep" Perrella, could get a run from neighborhood rival Mount St. Joseph. The Gaels narrowly missed last year's playoffs - and a semifinal game against the Friars - after blowing a lead and losing their final regular-season game to eventual runner-up McDonogh.
The Friars are coming off a 19-1-3 season that included 13 shutouts. Graduated, however, are two first-team All-Metros and one second-teamer. An additional first-teamer, Santino Quaranta, would have entered his junior season at Curley had he not signed to play professionally.
Stitz will look to top returning scorer, George Bakoulas, midfielders Dale Rothe, Peter Johnson and Kyle Hauf along with striker Michael Angelini.
Leading the way for Mt. St. Joe are third-year starters Brad Martin (striker), Chaz Loskarn (midfielder) and Matt Dryer (defender).
Mike Doherty, of State Cup champ Bethesda United, is part of a Mt. St. Joe defense that returns intact, and National Team pool player Saah Johnson, a freshman, adds depth.
In the MIAA B Conference, Friends won last year's title, 2-0, over three-time finalist St. Paul's - a champion three years ago - that avenged two earlier losses. The title was Friends' first since being co-champs in 1985, and the program's fourth overall.
DeSmit's Quakers went 13-3-3, led by second-team all-city/county Kyle Harrison, whose versatility allowed him to play all over the field. Harrison returns, as does top scoring striker, Benson Erwin, who finished with 12 goals and three assists.
But the Quakers have to rebuild their entire defense.
Gilman, 1-18-1 in the A Conference last season, has dropped into the B Conference, where players such as Crawford Hawkins, James Pilgrim and defenders Joey Denardi and Patrick Ercole hope to make a difference.