July 28, 2011

RivalsHigh 100 Countdown: Nos. 65-61

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

RivalsHigh.com began its 2011 countdown Monday, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.

We are starting at No. 100 and will release two groups of five teams per day. Then, we'll do a daily countdown from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Wednesday, Aug. 10 - nine days from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Sept. 5 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

The team rankings were compiled by high school sports senior analyst Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.

Final 2010 RivalsHigh 100 Rankings | Rankings schedule

Top 100 countdown
No. 65 Cass Tech, Michigan

COACH: Tom Wilcher
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 9 in Michigan

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the quarterback position unfolds. Cass Tech may be the most talented team in Michigan with nine seniors currently holding Division I offers, but if the quarterback play isn't situated, that all could become a moot point. The new signal caller will be tested early with an opening game against Farmington Hills Harrison.

STRENGTH: An absolutely devastating defense is going to unceremoniously welcome opponents this year. Ten, yes 10, players (a junior included) have Division I offers on this side of the ball. The entire defensive line and secondary will be playing football on Saturdays next year. The lone holdout is one linebacker, but he will line up next to two Division I commits - one to Michigan and the other to Iowa. Moving the ball could be a near impossibility.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Finding just one star is impossible on a team with this much talent. The top two players are both committed to heading to Michigan in linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson. The pair of four-stars will lead the defense into the season and are the stars of the team.

SHORT MEMORY: The loaded team will need to have forgotten how its season ended last year - a fumble in a state semifinal against Lake Orion, inside the 10 with two minutes to play. If it is dwelling on the past and not preparing for an amazing first week test with Harrison, it could start out the year 0-1. This is among the most talented defenses in the nation and could be in line for a special season.

Top 100 countdown
No. 64 East Grand Rapids, Mich.

COACH: Peter Stuursma
LAST SEASON: 14-0, won Division 3 state championship
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 49 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: The opening week in Michigan is fantastic for football. Not only will ranked Cass Tech be playing ranked Farmington Hills Harrison, but East Grand Rapids will be taking on Grand Rapids Catholic Central, the team that won the Division 5 state title last year and a quality program in its own right. Tests against rival Lowell in Week Six and Grand Rapids Christian, a team that it narrowly escaped 49-48 in the playoffs last year, will be the team's pre-playoff indicators.

STRENGTH: Tradition and coaching are on the side of East Grand Rapids. Coach Peter Stuursma is one of the best in the state and he has the program rolling. It is 126-7 overall in the last 10 years and has four undefeated seasons to go with its seven state titles in nine years. For a program that isn't always loaded with talent, it simply gets it done on the field.

STAR OF THE SHOW: The trio of returning leaders - DeAndre Grady, a 6-foot receiver and defensive back; David Drummond, a 5-foot-9 running back; and Luke Elias, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound guard will be the leaders on the offensive side of the ball.

NEW KID IN TOWN: Welcome to East Grand Rapids, Travis Palmer. Now go win another state title. The senior quarterback will need to have a big year to keep the ship sailing straight. He will join a lot of young players coming through the system and despite being a new starter in the huddle, a lot of pressure will get put on Palmer. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, he has the size. Now he needs to prove to have the ability.

Top 100 countdown
No. 63 Jenks, Oklahoma
COACH: Allan Trimble
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 93 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether Jenks can catch back up to Union - or if it is sliding back to the pack. Last season marked the first class of Jenks players to leave the school without a state title during their time in the program and that is a trend that needs a stopper. This class could be more talented than the one that just exited and it will need to prove it can keep its spot on the Oklahoma landscape.

STRENGTH: The team has one of the nicest weight facilities in the country and it has produced plenty of very strong high school football players. The two on the defensive line this year - Ashton Henderson and Orion Jones - fall into that category. Both can be disruptive as well as hard to move out of the way. Jenks' toughness will begin in the trenches and it will be fueled by the defensive side of the ball.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Alex Ross looks the part and he certainly has the ability. The No. 16 runningb ack nationwide is already committed to stay home and head to Oklahoma - the dream of most every kid in the state. Ross has the straight line speed, being crowned as the class 6A 200-meter champion, and is among the most physically-gifted players to come through the program.

NOT JUST ROSS: While Ross was the most coveted of the players, he may not be the best pure back on his own team. Trey'Vonne Barre can certainly play the position. Barre has had some issues with his grades that will need to be straightened out before his talents can be showcased but coach Allen Trimble had high praise for his "other" back. "There are about three guys in the state who can tackle him one-on-one," he said.

Top 100 countdown
No. 62 Allentown Central Catholic, Pa.

COACH: Harold Fairclough
LAST SEASON: 16-0, won Class AAA state championship
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 91 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: The team's offensive line. The Vikings return just one starter on the offensive line and to win the state title, the four new guys will need to play beyond expectations. The team has plenty of options but so far no solutions and while the players, according to coach Harold Fairclough, are talented, they are certainly inexperienced.

STRENGTH: The trio of offensive playmakers will again pace the scoring power of the team. Last year, quarterback Brendan Nosovitch received most of the attention from the defenses the team faced and with good reason - he is a star player. But it was somewhat by design as well; the team rotated seven players as starting receivers last year and there was not one particular player to key on. This year, Kevin Gulyas and Jalen Snyder-Scipio will be the regular targets and both have Division I talent.

STAR OF THE SHOW: One of the easiest to point to, quarterback Nosovitch is one of the best football players in the state and he has elevated Allentown Central Catholic to national heights. As a sophomore, he passed for over 2,000 yards and ran for 1,000; as a junior, he threw for more than 3,000 and rushed for over 1,600, scoring 64 touchdowns total. Fairclough said that he "sleeps well at night knowing Brendan is back there."

QUOTABLE: "We like the expectations," Fairclough said. "It only becomes pressure if you let it get to you. We feel like we have had the target the last few years and so long as you stay focused on what you need to do, it isn't a big deal. We were able to get it done and win the whole thing last year and that is what we intend to do again."

Top 100 countdown
No. 61 Pickerington Central, Ohio

COACH: Jay Sharrett
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 61 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: The first two weeks of the season. Pickerington Central will not have much time to kick the tires on the new season as it will face ranked Archbishop Moeller and ranked Cincinnati St. Xavier to start the season. Pickerington Central should be the faster team in both of those games, but it will need to match the physical play that both of those teams pride themselves on. An 0-2 hole will not eliminate Central's ability to make the playoffs but it will almost certainly knock it out of the RivalsHigh 100.

STRENGTH: Skill position players have really been coming out of this school in droves recently and this year is no different, as the strength of the team is speed all over the field. This year, with Sebastian Smith, Addison Clopton, Roger Lewis, Billy Eakins and Adam Clopton all checking between 4.4 and 4.6 in the 40 yard dash, it will be tough to have this team flying around to the ball.

STAR OF THE SHOW: There are a lot of talented players on the field for Pickerington Central and maybe no one particular star, but if one is to emerge it should be Addison Clopton. Among the best running backs in the state, Clopton will need to bring a spark to the team from the backfield. Listed at a generous 5-foot-10, Clopton can be a physical runner as well as a guy who can burn.

REBUILDING THE SECONDARY: Eilar Hardy is at Notre Dame. Tamani Carter is in Michigan. Mike Brown went to Buffalo and Kris Strange to Eastern Michigan. The Tigers will be breaking in an entirely new, and certainly not as Division-I heavy, secondary. Luckily the games with Moeller and St. X are not likely to test that portion of the defense, so the new players will have a chance to get their feet settled.

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