During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation in 2012.
This week’s team: Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
2011 Season: 13-0, Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion, No. 5 in final POWERADE FAB 50.
Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 30. The Falcons will return several experienced members of the school's first perfect squad. Last season's No. 5 ranking was bolstered by the defeat of eventual Florida state champion Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.), but a rematch isn't in the works for the upcoming season. Good Counsel does return enough key personnel to earn a FAB 50 spot to start the season -- the only question is, how high?
Team Strengths: The Falcons graduated some big-time playmakers, like Stefon Diggs, but return several defensive standouts in addition to quarterback Brendan Marshall. The most touted defender will be secondary star Kendall Fuller, but the defense should have additional linchpins such as linebackers Marcel Ngachie, Dorian O'Daniel, Reggie McGee and Darien Carr and secondary veterans Kirk Garner and C. J. Jones. Kobe Walker will be in the secondary mix, while C. J. Carroll is another receiver to watch. Sam Mustipher, Michael Konrad and Joe Ralli will anchor the o-line. And, of course, it doesn't hurt to have the state's all-time winningest coach, Bob Milloy, who will enter his 43rd season with a 365-106-1 record.
Another Maryland team to watch: Gilman (Baltimore) will be in the running with Good Counsel for Maryland preseason No. 1. The Greyhounds return their quarterback, Shane Cockerille, as well as three highly touted college prospects in defensive lineman Henry Poggi, son of head coach Biff Poggi; linebacker Micah Kiser (6-2, 220); and linebacker Melvin Keihn (6-3, 230). Gilman ended last season with a 10-1 record and a No. 21 FAB 50 ranking. It's lone loss was to Good Counsel and it handed Virginia champion and FAB 50 No. 43 Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) its only loss. The Greyhounds will face a tough early test against Moeller (Cincinnati) on Aug. 26.