1. Windham

The defending Class A state champion lost a lot, but don’t let that fool you. The Eagles have plenty of players ready to step in. They have a strong class of 16 seniors, and a very talented group of sophomores, four of whom played in the state final last year as freshmen. They might not be as dynamic, but they should be equally effective. The Eagles will be strong up front on both sides, and new QB Cody Laberge has plenty of targets, led by senior Nick Burton. “We’re as good as anyone coming out of the gate,’’ said Coach Matt Perkins. “It’s how we improve and handle the situations that are handed to us that will determine how we do.’’ 

2. Portland

It’s hard to imagine a more dangerous backfield than what Mike Bailey has this year. In Imadhi Zagon, the Bulldogs have perhaps the premier back in the state, a 1,300-yard rusher last year. Running him out of the shotgun in the Wildcat will get him the ball even more. In Will Walsh, Portland has a very valuable running back, capable of carrying a team himself. And fullback Carl Szanton is a tremendous blocker. A lot will depend on how Portland’s secondary matures over the season. 

3. South Portland

The Riots missed the playoffs last year by the slimmest of margins in the Crabtree standings. They shouldn’t need to worry this year. Fourteen starters return, and South Portland has a big addition: transfer Jacob Stanley from Palm Beach, Fla. Coach Steve Stinson calls him a “hybrid Foley and Curit,’’ referring to last year’s standout backs, Mike Foley and Ryan Curit. He’s big, fast and dangerous. But the Riots can throw the ball, too, making them double-dangerous. “We’re at the point right now where we’re a competitive Class A football team,’’ said Stinson. “That’s all you can ask for.’’ 

4. Brunswick

Yes, the Dragons lost most of their starters from last year’s high-octane Eastern Class A finalists. But the good news is that many of the returning players got some very valuable playing time last year after the starters had opened big leads. And it usually came against the first units of their opponents. “The foundation is there,’’ said Coach Dan Cooper. The Dragons aren’t very big, but they are pretty fast. Get their backs and receivers in the open, and there aren’t many defenders who will catch them. 

5. Bonny Eagle

It’s hard not to like the Scots, especially with their tradition, and now a chip on their shoulder. Their loss in last year’s regional final has spurred the Scots. “The kids really want to get back to the top,’’ said Coach Kevin Cooper. The Scots may not be as big as in the past, especially on the lines, but they are athletic. They have a lot of offensive threats, like backs Ethan Thorne and Nick Adkins, wide receiver Cameron McKague and tight end Jeff Amell. QB Matt Rollins is a first-year starter, but he has a good grasp of the Scots’ shotgun spread.