1. Falmouth: The 2016 Class B champs (and 2017 B South runner-up) make the move to Class A North with top rival Cape Elizabeth, the 2017 Class B champ, going into A South. Falmouth becomes the clear-cut favorite in A North, especially with Brunswick moving to Class B in the new three-class system. The defense is loaded with returning Maine Sunday Telegram All-State picks Brendan Hickey and junior Riley Reed, along with veteran Emmitt Zinn. The Farnham brothers, seniors Nick and Henry, are sharpshooters in the midfield. Expect Tommy Fitzgerald, Reilly Tucker and Lou Mainella to work together at attack to make up for the graduation of sniper Jack Scribner.

2. Cape Elizabeth: The Capers’ graduated their goalie, entire defense and four Telegram All-State players. So why are they a team to watch? Because they’re Cape Elizabeth, winners of 11 state titles in the 20 years of MPA-sanctioned boys’ lacrosse and are the odds-on favorite to win the Class A South tournament. Seniors Tate Perkins and Finn Raymond – previously the No. 2 option at attack and midfield – are now the focal points of the offense. They’ll look to match or exceed their junior year totals. Jacob Brydson showed he can help with five goals and four assists in a season-opening 18-9 win against Waynflete.

3. Thornton Academy: Among the “old” Class A teams, Thornton is the top threat to derail Cape in the South with four returning SMAA first-team picks in attackman Noah Edborg (58 goals), junior middie CJ LaBreck, senior defender Cam Houde and sophomore faceoff man Sam Edborg. Add in players like senior Wyatt LeBlanc in the midfield, junior Ean Patry as one of the top returning goalies around, and 6-foot-5, 300-pound bulldozing attackman Jack Webb and there are a lot of promising pieces. Thornton returns five of its top six scorers from a team that went 13-2 and reached the A South final.

4. Brunswick: The Dragons opted not to petition up to Class A this season after winning four straight Class A North regional crowns and state championships in 2015 and 2017. That means they enter the season as the favorites in the new Class B despite graduating 13 players from a 16-0 squad. Junior Aiden Glover is coming off a 66-goal, 39-assist season and has offensive support from returning starter Max Gramins (44 goals) and middie Henry Doherty. A season-opening 19-1 win against Cony shows the Dragons still have plenty of firepower. A brand-new defense may take time to develop but 16 players return, including junior goalie Connor Pendergast.

5. Waynflete: The Flyers were a credible program always stuck behind the likes of Falmouth and Cape. Now they are in Class C, with 19 returning players and can realistically vie for a championship, especially with big-time players in senior attack Hank Duvall (31 goals, 13 assists) and junior middie Miles Lipton (27 goals, 12 assists). Mitchell Adams, a junior midfielder, is another playmaker and senior defender John Veroneau can lock down a top attackman. Fryeburg, Freeport, Wells and possibly Maranacook/Winthrop are other C teams worth watching, but the Flyers are the favorites because of their experience, heritage, talent and a tough-enough schedule.

– Steve Craig