1. Thornton Academy: Truth be told, there’s no definitive favorite among area teams. “I think the parity in the (Class A) South will be very good this season,” Trojans Coach Michael Roux said. He’s right but we had to choose a preseason No. 1 and like Thornton’s depth. Goalie Seth Dube (2.08 goals-against average) is back with veteran leaders including Luke Chessie, Josh Lessard, Thomas Levasseur, Sawyer Wirsing, Liam Nash, Richie Martin, Ethan Logan and Chris Balzano.

2. Biddeford: The Tigers returned to their contending ways last year, winning Class A North. But 11 seniors are gone and this season is a question mark. Still, there is talent, especially with a line led by Nick McSorley. Goalie Justin Leonard was the backup last year but logged 301 minutes. How other players step up, especially on defense, will determine the Tigers’ fate.

3. Falmouth: The Yachtsmen are looking to mesh returning players with new. “We have our work cut out,” Coach Deron Barton said, and that was before the Yachtsmen lost their opener 6-2 to Edward Little. Falmouth’s top line will be Owen Drummey (18 points last year), Tyler Baker (10) and freshman Charlie Adams. Returning goalie Sam Kidder backs the defense. Falmouth also welcomed players back to the program, including senior center Dipesh Cyr-Brophy and defenseman Carter Hawkes.

4. So. Portland/Freeport/Waynflete: The Red Riots aren’t used to being considered this good but could have been ranked even higher. Coach Joe Robinson said, “Our biggest challenge will be to know how to be a top team, to take control of games and put teams away.” Mitchell Adams, Bradley McMains, Deven Hannan, Gus Lappin and Andrew Burns combined for 48 goals last year. The defense is solid and Liam McGibbon is back in goal.

5. Greely: The Rangers reached the Class B state title game last year and are slight favorites to return. Jake MacDonald (26 goals/26 assists) leads a strong forward group that also includes Andy Moore (21/38), Jackson Williams (14/19) and Peter Lattanzi (6/5). Caleb Duff is the only returning defenseman, and Greely has no goalies with varsity experience. The Rangers again play a tough schedule against Class A powers Thornton, Biddeford, Falmouth, Lewiston and St. Dom’s.

6. Portland/Deering: Everywhere you turn, the Bulldogs have experience. Like South Portland, they may need to learn how to be a serious contender. Telegram All-State defender Donato Tocci (19 points) will be the catalyst on both ends of the ice. Other forwards include Miki Silva, Walter Lewandowski, Cam Clifford, Jake Luce and White Steele. Max Cheever and Bay Smalley are back on defense, as is goalie Ben McCallum.

7. Cape Elizabeth: Former UMaine defenseman Jake Rutt takes over as coach, with 16 returning players. “Our biggest strength will be up front,” Rutt said. “We have a few playmakers and scorers.” Phil Tarling (21 points) and Gavin Simopolos (12) are a threat. Matt Laughlin, Brenden Goss, Jonas Moon and Brady Eavenson are among the other returning forwards. Jackson Woods, Stephen Murray and Ben Payson are back on defense. Garrett Melo logged 225 minutes as the backup goalie last year.

8. Scarborough: After a three-win rebuilding season, the Red Storm look to get back into contention. “Last year paid off for the younger guys. They now have a lot of confidence,” second-year coach Jake Brown said. Patrick Clonan, Zach Chaisson and Nolan Matthews lead the returning forwards, and Ethan Jasa and Callaghan Berry are back as the most reliable defensemen. The goalie position is unclear.

9. Cheverus: The Stags reached the Class A South final last year, then watched a lot of talent leave. Cheverus still has skill but no depth. Only 11 skaters dressed in a 6-2 season-opening loss to St. Dom’s. Forward is strong, led by Jackson Wilson, who had a goal and assist against the Saints. Alex Brewer and Colby Anton are also back. Colin Doherty is one of the few true defensemen. Bryson Pomerleau is in goal after transferring from Massabesic/Bonny Eagle.

10. Gorham: Picking the Rams over Class B rival York for the 10th spot is guesswork. Gorham lost six seniors, which leaves a bunch of players coming back. “We have depth and experience,” Coach Jon Portwine said. Trevor Gray (14 points) and Cole Perreault (13) can handle forward or defense. Other top returning forwards are Tanner Garand, Dominic Lorello, Joseph Curesky and Alex O’Connor. Goaltending is a question mark.

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