Dinwiddie Generals

Coach: Billy Mills 2016: 14-1

Offense: Senior RBs Zyan Sturdivant (more than 1,200 yards) and Joseph Tyree (more than 700 yards), senior tight end K’Vaughan Pope (630 yards receiving, 162 yards rushing) and sophomore WR Jasiah Williams make the Generals a handful. Junior K’ymon Pope, K’Vaughan’s brother, is the new QB. Transfer WR ClayTrey Reese will be a threat. The line has experience and good size: returnees Shamon Gholson (280, senior), Jayion Blunt (250, senior) and Brandon Harris (240, senior), plus newcomers Jacob Edwards (315, junior) and Kenneth Grandison (290, junior).

Defense: The Generals have a game-changer in LB K’Vaughan Pope, the area’s top recruit who has committed to Ohio State. Fellow returning LBs Sturdivant and Tyree make the unit formidable. Also back are senior DE Omar Tyson, senior DT Cody Mills and S Williams. Senior DE Blake Williams and sophomore DT D’Anta Johnson will help up front. The secondary is young with CB Reese, senior CB Daquan Wilson and sophomore S Robert Barlow.

Outlook: The Generals should be a major player again with a significant number of players returning from the team that lost in the 4A state title game. They have playmakers, depth, size and experience. K’ymon Pope lacks game experience at QB, but Mills believes he has savvy and will excel. They’ll certainly be battle-tested against a tough schedule.

Hanover Hawks

Coach: Derek Stoudt 2016: 2-8

Offense: Tyler Elrod and Cooper McLanahan are battling to be starting quarterback. Elrod, a junior, got experience last year, stepping in when Clayton Cheatham (JMU) went down with an injury. FB Parker Chenault, who will walk on at Virginia, and TE Michael Wilcox, both seniors, are back. So is senior WR Jack Chenault. But as a whole, the unit will be really young. There’s freshman RB Eric Rankin and sophomore Tyler McCormick. Stoudt says he’s excited about both of them. The line is big but young. Junior LT Henry Waite (6-2, 240) is the only returning starter. RT Stephen Castle (6-5, 220) and RG Jackson Mayes are sophomores. C Jake Stockbridge is a junior. The run game has the potential to be explosive, but also can grind out long drives, Stoudt said.

Defense: The front four will be a strength for Hanover. The group includes junior DT Justyn Haynesworth (6-2, 270) and junior DE Victor Weatherless. Chenault and Wilcox are back at linebacker. Adding onto the group is All-Metro wrestler Carson Allen (5-9, 180). The secondary is mostly new. Senior Eric McLemore is the only returning starter. Junior Isaiah Williams will start at safety.

Outlook: 2016 was one of Hanover’s worst seasons since the school opened. Cheatham had an inexperienced team around him, and then he suffered a season-ending injury in the Hawks’ sixth game. The squad’s only wins came against J.R. Tucker and Armstrong. The Hawks start 2017 with a blank slate. They’re young but show promise, Stoudt said. He expects them to be drastically improved. Hanover has been a consistently good program the past decade, so it’s hard to imagine the Hawks staying down for long. They won’t play Dinwiddie this year, but their schedule doesn’t drop off much. They face Monacan (9-3 last year) and Massaponax (12-2) to start the season. Last year, it took five wins to reach the playoffs in Hanover’s bracket. The Hawks will have to beat some good teams to find those five victories.

Huguenot Falcons

Coach: Bryan Jennings 2016: 3-7

Offense: Senior QB Merlys Manuel threw for 1,402 yards and 14 TDs but also had 15 interceptions last year. Receivers Kenneth Cannon (30 catches, 470 yards) and Desean Hinton return, and Jennings is high on sophomore WRs Kevin Gayles and Manquelle Ross. L.C. Bird transfer Rakei Pope and Derquan Syrkes are the RBs. Senior G Brennon Thomas (6-5, 340) leads a large line of junior Keivonte Thomas (300), senior Derrick Jung (330), junior Timothy Smith (300) and junior Khari Smith (250).

Defense: DE Carlik Humes and DT Javonte Peoples return up front and will be joined by DE Trajan Williams and DT Marquis Bagley. The linebacking corps is replacing a pair of three-year starters. Duron Ferguson is the only returnee, with Jeremiah Hood and Darrell Bennett. The secondary is young and untested, but Jennings believes it can stand out: junior CBs Larry Elder and Damari Walker, junior S Dell Hicks and sophomore S Osmond Harris.

Outlook: Jennings says the Falcons have the potential to be more potent. Huguenot is replacing seven starters on defense and some of its offensive line, so adjusting quickly will be paramount. The Class 4 Falcons have games against Class 6 teams James River, Cosby, Manchester and Clover Hill, plus Class 5 power L.C. Bird.

Midlothian Trojans

Coach: Matt Hutchings 2016: 3-7

Offense: Returning at quarterback is senior Kyle Daniluk, who’s been the starter since midway through his sophomore year. He averaged 132 passing yards last year. The offense has a lot of experience with nine starters back. The strength of the offense is in the skill players, including WRs Casey Joyce and Kyle Webb and RBs Tyler Pace and John Jennings. There’s not a lot of depth on the line, which includes T Aiden Clevinger (6-6, 300).

Defense: There’s a lot of experience on this unit, too, which loses only three starters. Back is junior LB Brayden Staib (6-2, 195), who will lead the defense. Hutchings expects the back seven to be good against the pass. Senior LB Omar Jackson (6-3, 230), S Joyce and Webb are all returning starters. Senior DT Trip Armstead is the only starter back on the line. Midlothian is adjusting from a 5-2 to a 3-4 scheme.

Outlook: The good news for Midlothian is that even though it went 3-7 last year, it finished just one spot out of the playoffs. The bad news for the Trojans is they play in a tough region that is getting even stronger. Last year, Dinwiddie and Eastern View each went 10-0. Monacan and Louisa County both won eight games. Patrick Henry joins the region after shrinking from Class 5 to Class 4. That means there are seven teams in the region that won seven games or more last year. If those seven teams make the postseason again, there will be just one spot left and six teams fighting for it. To make the playoffs, Midlo has to play better defense than a year ago when it gave up 32 points per game. It also needs to get the most out of its offensive line and figure out how to be successful with a pass-heavy offense.

Monacan Chiefs

Coach: Jim Henderson 2016: 9-3

Offense: The senior combination of QB Syour Fludd and RB Korey Bridy makes the Chiefs tough to contain. Fludd was 158 of 253 passing for 2,433 yards, with 29 TDs and six interceptions in 2016. Bridy averaged 93.4 yards rushing and scored 31 TDs. Colin Campbell (6-2, 267), an FBS prospect, and Tristan Mann return to lead a line that includes Andrew Freeman, A.J. Cajigas and B.J. Worsham. Tanner Addams is the only returning starter at wide receiver, but Izayah Reeves and Taylor Green step in with experience. Ocasio Ruffin will be another target. PK Luke Walls is a weapon.

Defense: DE Marteise Phipps (6-2, 213) has FCS offers, and playmakers return at linebacker with Stone Snyder and Addams. Mann and La’Quan Bolden will be part of a rotation up front. Jack Murphy and Juan Branch join Snyder and Addams at linebacker. Arturo Mendoza and Reeves return in the secondary, with Fludd and Bridy doing double duty there.

Outlook: With a strong offensive combination, the Chiefs are capable of going a long way in Class 4. Monacan, which averaged more than 42 points last season, is breaking in some new starters. Giving Fludd time to throw will be important, and depth is a concern on defense. If the Chiefs can stay healthy, opponents may have a hard time keeping up on the scoreboard.

Patrick Henry Patriots

Coach: Keith Braxton 2016: 8-4

Offense: Patrick Henry operated the triple option last year. This year, it switches to a run-based spread attack. Senior Hunter Hart, who rushed for 73 yards per game as a running back and quarterback, will play QB this year. He had Division I offers to play football, but committed to William & Mary baseball instead. Senior WR Kaleb Smith (6-3, 190) has committed to Wake Forest. RBs Za’Quari Tillman and Terrance Oxendine are back. But most of the line needs to be replaced. T Mike Harris (6-2, 300) is the only returning starter. C Danny Michalak (6-3, 300) brings more size to the front five.

Defense: Two cornerbacks, Devyn Coles and Jamel Jackson, and linebacker A.J. Norris are the only returning starters on the defense. The starting defensive line, including DT Khadeis Battle, is made up of all underclassmen.

Outlook: In 2016, Patrick Henry won a playoff game, finished 8-4 and had its best season since 2006. Then much of the offense and defense graduated, and coach Bryan Davis resigned. The Patriots have a strong quarterback and good skill players around him. Can the new line excel? Will there be any adjustment period with a new coach and a new offensive scheme? Can the youthful defense hold off opponents? Patrick Henry has shrunk from Class 5 to Class 4, but still finds itself in a fairly competitive region. It will play in Region B, which includes six teams that went 8-2 or better last year: Dinwiddie, Eastern View, Chancellor, Louisa County, Monacan and Powhatan. Patrick Henry plays Glen Allen and Deep Run, two of the area’s most rapidly improving teams, in the first three weeks of the season. Can the Patriots fend off these upstart programs?

Powhatan Indians

Coach: Jim Woodson 2016: 8-3

Offense: Only two starters are back from last year: WR Gabe Satterwhite and TE Jacob Beil. Powhatan has to replace its best offensive weapon from a year ago, Justin DeLeon, who averaged 180 rushing yards and was named second-team All-Metro. Junior Jacob Taylor and senior Ben Nowacki are the leading candidates to take the handoffs this year. There are two players vying for the starting quarterback job: junior Jacob Moss and senior Noah Dowdy. Moss became the starter last year when Jacob Oglesby went down with an injury, and Dowdy transferred in from Blessed Sacrament Huguenot. The starting offensive line is all new and all juniors. T Jay’Vion Johnson (6-4, 279) brings some size to the group.

Defense: Eight starters need to be replaced. LB Beil, CB Satterwhite and S Nowacki are the only returners. The line will feature a few players going both ways, including DE Cameron Arnold, Johnson and DT Jarrett Tronge. Jacob Dowdy and Ryan Hall add to the linebacking corps. CB Brendon McMullin and S Noah Dowdy are slated to line up in the secondary.

Outlook: Powhatan went 8-2 in the regular season last year but was the sixth seed out of eight in its 4A bracket. There are two reasons why Powhatan didn’t get a better seed: There were five teams in the bracket with a record of 8-2 or better, and the Indians didn’t pick up as many power points with their nondistrict schedule. This year’s slate includes Midlothian, Caroline and Hopewell, two Class 4 teams that struggled last year and a good Class 3 team, respectively. With the addition of Patrick Henry to Class 4, Region B, the race gets even tighter. With a less difficult schedule, Powhatan’s margin for error against quality district opponents Louisa County and Albemarle is bigger. Powhatan should make its way back to the playoffs in 2017. But whether it can break through, get a better seed and win a playoff game is the question.

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— Eric Kolenich and Tim Pearrell

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