10 questions to kick off the football season: Is DeMatha the best? -- Gazette.Net


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1. Is DeMatha Catholic the best team in the DMV? After playing a sophomore-heavy lineup two years ago, DeMatha is absolutely stacked and could be the area's top team. At minimum, DeMatha's first WCAC title since 2008 is a strong possibility.

2. Will Henry A. Wise reign supreme once again, both in the county and the state? No team has won consecutive 4A titles since Seneca Valley in 1997 and '98, and Potomac (2004 and '05 2A titles) is the only Prince George's team to win back-to-back state championships. But Wise could make history. As much as Wise lost to graduation, it picked up potentially just as much in incoming transfers.

3. Is the county's 4A League or 3A/2A/1A League better? A stacked opening-weekend slate of games at Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex — Eleanor Roosevelt vs. Gwynn Park (7 p.m. Sept. 6), Suitland vs. Potomac (4 p.m. Sept. 7) and Wise vs. Frederick Douglass (7 p.m. Sept. 7) — will help answer the question. Regardless of results, though, partisans likely won't change their firmly held beliefs, but at least one side will get a credible debate point.

4. Which now-2A Prince George's County teams will survive the 2A South Region gauntlet? The 2A South, thanks to realignment, features six teams that made the playoffs last season, including four from Prince George's County. Douglass and Gwynn Park qualified in that region and Potomac and Friendly in the 3A South. Just four spots are available, and the competition will be fierce.

5. Will Douglass beat Gwynn Park? Douglass and Gwynn Park have traded wins in their last seven meetings, though Douglass has had the firm edge in their recent playoff matchups. They'll meet again Sept. 21 and maybe once more in the postseason. As long as Wise remains so far ahead of Prince George's County's other 4A teams — Wise beat each in-county opponents by at least three touchdowns last season — Douglass-Gwynn Park is the county's best rivalry.

6. Which teams will make 4A South Region playoffs? Each year between 2008 and 2011, Wise, Suitland, Charles H. Flowers and Eleanor Roosevelt occupied the all-Prince George's region's four playoff spots. After DuVal broke through last year, bumping Flowers, the region seems to be relatively wide open this season with the usual four plus DuVal, Bowie, Northwestern, Bladensburg and Oxon Hill all viewed as at least possible contenders.

7. Did DuVal and Northwestern build teams or programs? Last season, DuVal made its first playoff appearance since 2007, and Northwestern would have made its first since 2003 if either of its forfeits for using an ineligible player during inconsequential portions of a game hadn't occurred. Both teams were led by strong senior classes, and this season will be telling to whether either school has actually developed into a reliable program or just had a good group of players come through. DuVal hasn't made consecutive playoff appearances since 1988 and 1989, and Northwestern has never done it.

8. When will Craig Jefferies turn around Oxon Hill? Jefferies built up so much good will while coaching D.C. Dunbar, it seems to be a matter of when, not if, he lifts Oxon Hill. The Clippers were 2-8 last season, so the turnaround might not come soon, but this program deserves monitoring.

9. Will Riverdale Baptist's spending pay off? Riverdale Baptist continues to pour resources into its football program, including building a turf stadium that opened last year. The Crusaders went 5-5 last season, but elevating a program like this takes time.

10. Will new Bishop McNamara coach Keith Goganious awaken a sleeping giant? Since going 8-3 and reaching the WCAC semifinals in 2009, Bishop McNamara has posted three straight losing seasons. That's despite a wave of talent passing through the school, including offensive lineman Damian Prince, who's still around and widely viewed as the state's top college recruit.

— dfeldman@gazette.net