Welcome to the 2014 Varsity Sports Network preseason Top 20 football poll. VSN ranks the top teams in the Baltimore region which covers public and private schools in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Harford County and Howard County.

As we progress towards the regular season, we will countdown our 2014 VSN Football Preseason Rankings from No. 20 all the way to No. 1.

16. Calvert Hall College Cardinals (click link for video / photos)

2013 record: 3-9

Coach: Donald Davis (8th season at Calvert Hall; 50-32)

Returning starters – 15

Key returning starters – Dionte Austin, Sr., defensive back, 6-0, 170; Kenji Bahar, Sr., quarterback, 6-foot-3, 170 pounds; Lawrence Cager, Sr., wide receiver, 6-5, 210; Drew Devanney, Sr., offensive line, 6-0, 245; Jaire Dorsey, Sr., linebacker, 5-11, 185; Damien Farmer, Sr., running back, 5-9, 170; Macquire Hays, Sr., linebacker, 6-0, 200; Nijuel Hill, Jr., defensive back, 5-11, 180; Romel Little, Sr., defensive line, 6-0, 315; Bryan Marine, Sr., defensive back, 5-11, 175; Riley Miller, Sr., defensive line, 5-11, 230; Morgan Scroggins, Jr., wide receiver, 6-0, 185; Kevin Thomas, Jr., running back, 5-10, 175; Jeff Wheaton, Sr., linebacker, 6-2, 215

Key returning players – Steve DeGross, Sr., linebacker, 5-9, 190; Ed Harris, Sr., offensive line, 6-0, 260; Marcellus Harrison, Sr., offensive line, 6-1, 285; Malik Montague, So., offensive line, 6-1, 305; Corey Royster, Sr., defensive back, 5-9, 160; Chris Stephan, Sr., defensive line, 6-0, 240; Anthony Tirabassi, Sr., offensive line, 5-10, 240; Brandon Wade, Jr., linebacker, 6-2, 175; BJ Watson, So., wide receiver, 5-9, 170

Key newcomers – Nolan Bennett, Sr., offensive line, 6-5, 315; David Biggers, Jr., defensive line, 6-1, 225; Nick Booker, Jr., linebacker, 5-9, 190; Cameron Brooks, So., wide receiver, 5-9, 170; Tyler Burton, Jr., tight end, 5-10, 200; Jimmy Crowley, Jr., defensive line, 6-0, 175; Peter Ferrera, Jr., kicker, 5-10, 180; Tyshon Fogg, So., linebacker, 5-2, 215; Ben Hoffer, Jr., offensive line, 6-3, 260; Owen Reese, So., tight end/fullback, 6-1, 215; Tim Smith, So., running back, 6-0, 210; Zack Weideck, Sr., punter, 6-4, 190.

Outlook – After a disappointing 2013, the Cardinals could be ready to contend for the MIAA A Conference title. Calvert Hall have 32 letterwinners back from last year’s roster.

Bahar, who’s committed to Monmouth University, will direct the offense. Farmer and Thomas return to the backfield with newcomer Smith set to see some action.

The receiving unit features Cager, who’s the area’s top receiving prospect. He has Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest among his final choices. Davis said Scroggins is the “best pass catcher” he’s coached.

Devanney (center) is the lone starter back on the offensive line, but Harris (left tackle), Montague (guard) and Tirabassi (right guard) played significant snaps last fall. Harrison (left guard) returns after going down in last year’s opener with a season-ending shoulder injury.

Hoffer and Bennett will see time at tackle. Burton replaces all-MIAA A perfumer Eric Evans (Ohio State, lacrosse) at tight end.

Little (tackle), Miller (end) and Wheaton (end) are back on the defensive front with Parkville transfer Biggers getting the early nod at the other tackle. Dorsey and Hays (both inside) will anchor the linebacking corps.

Austin, a Wake Forest commit and Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 pick, and Hill will again man the corners with Marine at free safety. Royster and Scroggins will get substantial time at strong safety.

Austin, Farmer, Scroggins and Watson will handle return duties with Ferrera and Weideck managing the other main special team tasks.

After a three-year run that included the MIAA A crown (2010) and back-to-back appearances in the now-defunct league tournament finals (2011 and 2012), Calvert Hall won only one league match last fall.

Davis said depth will be an issue, but if the Cardinals can avoid the injuries that plagued them last year, they should be much improved. The Towson school is ranked No. 25 in the state preseason Top 25 poll.

“We haven’t earned the right to be in the position,” said Davis, whose team hosts defending Class 3A state Franklin Sept. 5. “Do I believe we are good enough to earn the opportunity, yes.”

2014 schedule

Aug. 29 vs. Irvine (10-3 in 2013)…Cardinals welcome Los Angeles-area squad which reached CIF Southern section semifinals last year.

Sept. 5 vs. Franklin (12-2)…Cardinals gained first 2013 win against Indians, who went on to win Class 3A state title.

Sept. 12 at Good Counsel (6-5)…Perennial Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power topped Calvert Hall last fall in first meeting since 1976.

Sept. 19 at John Carroll School (4-6)…First matchup against Patriots since 2008.

Sept. 26 at Archbishop Spalding (8-3)…Cavaliers got first win against Calvert Hall last year since joining the MIAA A.

Oct. 10 vs. McDonogh School (11-0)…Eagles gained first victory since 2009 with 48-13 pounding last fall.

Oct. 18 vs. St. Frances Academy (5-7) at Patterson Park…Panthers gained first MIAA A win with 32-20 decision over Calvert Hall last season.

Oct. 31 vs. Gilman School (7-3)…Cardinals have lost last five decisions.

Nov. 8 at Mount St. Joseph (2-8)…Calvert Hall has outscored Gaels 142-39 in last five meetings.

Nov. 27 vs. Loyola Blakefield (3-8) at M&T Bank Stadium…Dons ended Cardinals’ four-year run with overtime victory in 94th Turkey Bowl last Thanksgiving.