CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When Jon Carpenter speaks of "Year Four," the reference has nothing to do with Martinsburg High School.
Then again, in some ways, it has everything to do with Martinsburg.
Sure, the Bulldogs are in position to become the first Class AAA program in history to win four consecutive state football championships. That is, and will continue to be, the buzz surrounding prep football as the season kicks off with preseason practices Monday.
The number of consecutive Martinsburg titles coincides, however, with the number of years that Carpenter has been working to restore Capital to its former status as a preeminent football power.
"It's Year Four. People are kind of expecting something by now, you know," Carpenter said this summer.
In Carpenter's first three years, the team reached the playoffs twice, reaching the Class AAA quarterfinals in his first year. In 2012, Capital fell flat in a first-round loss at home to Musselman. Carpenter's record at the school is 21-12.
Good, but not to the level of Carpenter's aspirations.
As the Daily Mail unveils its 6th Annual Preseason All-State Team today, it appears Carpenter's vision is closer to realization than ever.
Tyrhee Pratt (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), Capital's sophomore quarterback who landed a spot on MaxPreps' national All-Freshman team in 2012, is one of two quarterbacks listed on the Daily Mail's preseason team. Hurricane senior Austin Hensley (6-2, 180) is the other.
"He's bigger, stronger, smarter and is throwing better than he did last year," Carpenter said. "His decision-making has been a big improvement too. A lot of the things he did last year where he was improvising he was able to do because of his athletic ability.
"Now, he's seeing the field better and recognizing coverages better so hopefully he doesn't have to rely on that athleticism as often. It's good that he can do it, but a lot of times when you get a young quarterback having to do that it doesn't end up so good."
Pratt completed 93 of 181 passes as a freshman, leading the Cougars to a 7-4 record. He threw for 1,451 yards, 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
Hensley threw for 2,200 yards, 21 TDs and 9 INTs on 170-of-285 passing last year, the tops among all returning Class AAA quarterbacks.
The Capital defense landed a pair of preseason picks. Senior linebacker Jonathan Pittman (5-11, 180) and junior utility player Kashuan Haley (6-1, 190) - the Cougars' second-leading rusher in 2012 with 777 yards and 9 TDs and one of the state's most dangerous return men - also made the cut.
The Cougars also return senior running back James Richmond, who carried 126 times for 1,004 yards and 12 TDs last year.
Morgantown (10-3) is tied with Capital in having three first-team selections on the preseason team, and leads all schools with five picks among the first-and-second teams. West Virginia University commitments Amanii Brown - a 6-6, 260-pound senior - and Stone Wolfley - a 6-5, 230-pound junior - are listed as an offensive lineman and tight end, respectively.
Senior running back Chazzy Thomas (5-8, 175) is Class AAA's No. 2 returning rusher from a year ago (1,503 yards and 20 TDs) and is fully recovered from a severe ankle injury suffered in the Mohigans' regular-season finale against University last season.
"He looks great," Morgantown coach John Bowers said. "He ran track and ran 11.5 (in the 100 meters) his last meet, which is about right where he was last year."
With two Football Bowl Subdivision commitments up front and a 2012 All-State pick (6-2, 280-pound senior D.J. Summers) on the line as well, Thomas could find himself running into the open with frequency this season.