1. Cheverus: The Stags got a taste of a perfect season and a state championship last year. They aren’t likely to relinquish the title without a fight. There’s enough talent returning, particularly at the skill positions, to keep Cheverus on top. The Stags have experience in the line in which to give speedy Spencer Cooke the openings to break long runs. He gained more than 1,000 yards a year ago. Cam Olson takes over at quarterback. Olson was injured for nearly all of last season. He wouldn’t have played quarterback had he been healthy because the spot was held by Peter Gwilym, the Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, but now it’s his turn. Olson has the size and arm to shine. A favorite target will be Louie DiStasio at WR.

2. Bonny Eagle: Coach Kevin Cooper said this year’s team has the potential to be as talented on offense as any team he’s coached. That’s saying a lot. Tyler Goodale was the junior varsity quarterback last season but has made big strides as a passer. He was already a strong runner, which goes hand-in-hand with the spread offense. He’ll be handing off to tailback Nick Adkins, who has a knack for slipping tackles and finding holes. The offensive talent continues at receiver with Cam Cooper, Mark Burnell and others. The Scots feel they’re ready to return to the top. There’s not a lot of depth so they’ll have to stay healthy.

3. Scarborough: The Red Storm are an up-and-coming program. After last year’s breakthrough season in which the program went 8-2 and reached the Western Class A semifinals, most people feel they’ve already arrived. The Red Storm will look to repeat last year with an eye to going one or two steps further. Coach Lance Johnson has built a strong program in just a year. Most teams would be hurt by the graduation of 22 seniors, but it doesn’t appear Scarborough will be. The Red Storm have 12 returning starters and talented newcomers ready to step in. Scott Thibeault is one of the top runners in the conference. Dillon Russo gained valuable experience at quarterback last season.

4. Windham: With 16 returning starters, the Eagles are in good position to bounce back from last season’s 4-5 record. The strength of the team is both lines, where there’s size and talent. Two-way tackle Jordan Lindsay is a three-year starter and a physical presence up front. He’s joined by twins Joe and Shawn Francoeur at both guards. The Francoeurs gained valuable experience as sophomores. T.D. O’Brien will start at quarterback and looks to continue the recent strong play at the position for the Eagles. Christian Coons at fullback and Damien Shepard at wingback provide power and speed. 

5. Thornton Academy: The Golden Trojans have had a strong run of teams in recent seasons and this should be no different. The team plays all the other top teams, so they’ll have to mature quickly if they are to at least match last year’s 6-2 regular season. The keys to the season will be the play of quarterback Eric Christensen, a junior, and how well the line develops with its assortment of veterans and newcomers. Christensen could be a physical presence and fit right in with the spread offense. Andrew Libby, John Remmes and Nick Kenney give the team depth at running back. The defense and special teams will need to play well.

— Tom Chard, Staff Writer