Even before the first tee shot was struck, this year's high school golf season looked to be brimming with potential because of the number of solid players returning.
When Unionville fired a team score of 176 in its opening match at Honeybrook, it raised that potential to a level bordering on exceptional.
"There are a bunch of teams playing pretty strong right now,' said Avon Grove head coach Jim Kent.
Leading the way is Unionville, the defending Ches-Mont League American Division champion.
The Indians were undefeated last season, and their opening match of this season indicated they're very capable of making it two titles in a row.
Returning state qualifier Blake Hinckley, who was thinking about playing football this season instead of golf, shot a four-under-par 31 for the Indians in the match against Downingtown East.
Hinckley is one of four Daily Local News All-Area first-team members back this season. Downingtown East's Cam Byrnes, Conestoga's Andrew Wilner and Coatesville's Sammie Staudt are the others.
Also back is All-Area Player of the Year Cara Basso, a sophomore at Villa Maria Academy. Basso won the PIAA Class AA girls individual championship last season.
She opened this season on a strong note with a one-over 37 in the Hurricanes' first match against Mount St. Joseph and Gwynedd Mercy.
Five players from the All-Area second team return this season. Downingtown West's Liam McAnally and Mark Miller, West Chester Rustin's Trey Swanson, Unionville's Nick Ward and Conestoga's Mike Cook will be looking to take their games to another level.
A total of 21 players who made the All-Ches-Mont League boys team, and five All-Ches-Mont girls players are back.
Although Unionville appears to be the team most capable of ultra-low scores, Great Valley and West Chester Rustin will push them to the limit in the American Division.
In the National Division, Bishop Shanahan will be gunning for its third straight championship, with Downingtown East and Avon Grove right on the Eagles' heels.
West Chester Henderson and West Chester East should also be competitive if they get consistent performances from their younger players.
Mike Ladden takes over as the Downingtown East head coach, replacing the venerable Mike Morgan, who retired and moved south.
Outside the Ches-Mont League, Conestoga is the area team with the most potential.
The Pioneers won the Central League championship last season and finished fifth in the District 1 Class AAA team standings.
Most of their players are back this season, and Wilner will look to improve on his eighth-place finish in last year's District 1 Class AAA individual standings.
Downingtown East will join Great Valley in PAC-10 girls competition this season.