Not only the perennial favorite to win the Suburban One, North Penn (13-3 overall, 7-0 league last season) has defined itself as one of the state's top teams.
Senior running back Kyle Mayfield returns after rushing for 1,359 yards and will help mask the absence of quarterback Corey Ernst, who graduated. Mayfield's totals should be even higher this season, and he will run through large holes created by hardy senior offensive linemen Joe Potkovac and Derek Brandt.
Last season, the Knights advanced to the Class AAAA state title game before falling to Central Dauphin. They were tested early on with losses to Catholic League powers St. Joseph's Prep and La Salle.
Head coach Dick Beck has been just as aggressive this season as he scheduled La Salle in the opener, followed by meetings with Archbishop Wood and St. Joseph's Prep. The early games will put the Knights in great shape heading into the Continental Conference schedule.
Also in the Continental, Pennridge (7-5, 5-2) and Souderton (6-5, 5-2) will rely on their strong defenses in bids to upset North Penn. Pennridge returns end John Dubyk and linebacker Kenny Crawford, while Souderton will plug its holes with lineman Rick Young and linebacker Colby Johnson.
The American Conference is up for grabs as Plymouth-Whitemarsh (8-2, 6-0) will defend its title with new faces at quarterback and running back.
Senior Pete Giorgio will look to replace Lehigh-bound quarterback Russhon Phillips, and running back Torry Brown aims to bounce back from injury. The Colonials' inexperience will be offset by the team's strong offensive line, headed by tackle Ryan Lunney.
With last season's poor campaign behind it, Cheltenham (5-7, 2-4) should be ready to contend this year. The Panthers will attack opponents with a versatile offense headed by quarterback Hyneef Dockery and running back Mark Thompson. Dockery rushed for three touchdowns in the first two games last season while Thompson scored four touchdowns in a win against Upper Moreland.
In the National Conference, Abington (10-2, 6-1) will need to stave off Neshaminy (8-4, 4-3) and Council Rock South (12-2, 6-1) in order to grab its third straight title.
The Ghosts will be led by wideout Gage Gormley, who has tremendous speed. Dylan Collins will be the team's quarterback after spending two seasons as a backup. Along with Gormley, he will rely on junior running back Craig Reynolds to keep the team afloat. In a matchup of two of the conference's top teams, Abington will open league play with Council Rock North on Sept. 21.
Defensive back Devon Brown and defensive end Luke Carrezola will lead Neshaminy's defense, which returns nine starters. With its quarterback position in flux, the Redskins will need good output from wideout Justin Andrews while relying on the presence of lineman Ian Waterbury.