August 1, 2011

RivalsHigh 100 Countdown: Nos. 50-46

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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.

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

We started 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 - just 10 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.

Preseason 2011 RivalsHigh 100 Rankings | Post your thoughts about the teams

Top 100 countdown
No. 50 Long Beach Poly, California

COACH: Raul Lara
LAST SEASON: 8-3
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 28 in California

KEEP AN EYE ON: How coach Raul Lara handles this season. With a couple of tough seasons in the last three, Lara will be on the high school hot seat. There is a lot of talent at Poly and a lot of expectations. The school has been put back in the focus with a television show about the team, "4th and Forever," being aired nationally. Lara has a lot to juggle with expectations on the field and the off the field issues that have been put under the microscope with the television show.

STRENGTH: The Jackrabbits have a ton of talent at receiver with three players at the position being committed to Arizona State. Led by Richard Smith, teammates Randall Goforth and Josiah Blandin round out the trio. Covering three Division I athletes will be tough for any team to do.

STAR OF THE SHOW: With the loads of senior talent that is on the field for Poly, the star of the team may actually be junior safety David Price. Price is 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds with an early offer from SMU and is hearing from Alabama, Nebraska and pretty much every team in the Pac-12. He is still young and developing, but on a squad with six Division I seniors, he could be the best of them all.

AN 'A' FOR EFFORT? From several reports on Poly at summer events, analysts had questioned the efforts of the receivers when they knew they were not the primary target or that the ball was likely not headed their way. For a team that has had a bit of an identity crisis - Lara likes to run the ball - these kids may be hard to keep motivated as the college decisions have been made and effort is already a question. It is a common issue that many coaches have had to deal with and Lara will need to make sure the kids are working hard every week.

Top 100 countdown
No. 49 Mallard Creek, N. Carolina

COACH: Michael Palmieri
LAST SEASON: 13-1
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 7 in North Carolina

KEEP AN EYE ON: The defense of Mallard Creek. There is very little doubt that this team will push for nearly 700 points this season (after scoring 695 in 2010) with one of the most explosive offenses in the country. But the defense, which was not suspect last year as it gave up just 120 points, faced very low levels of competition. This season, the schedule opens with an explosive Butler team and also includes a mid-season game with Vance, the team that eliminated Mallard Creek from the playoffs in 2010. The defense will need to be on the bus for those games as well as the playoff run.

STRENGTH: A high-octane offensive attack is stealing headlines in the Charlotte area and with good reason. There is a rhythm on offense with the passing game as well as a very strong, but complimentary, running attack. With Jela Duncan running the ball and Jamel Harbison and Corey Miller hauling in passes, putting up close to 50 points a game is not out of the question.

STAR OF THE SHOW: A 6-foot-5, 270-pound beast on the offensive line, D.J. Humphries is one of the best players in America checking in at No. 3 in the Rivals100. He is also a personable and friendly player - not that he doesn't enjoy pancaking opponents. Humphries was a star as a junior and is shining brighter as a senior.

GAME OF THE YEAR? The folks in North Carolina will not have to wait long to determine who belongs atop the state rankings as Mallard Creek and Butler will go at it right out of the gate. Butler received a very high national ranking with its performance last year. This year, it could be Mallard Creek that climbs the ladder, but the first step is in Week One.

Top 100 countdown
No. 48 Butler, North Carolina
COACH: Brian Hales
LAST SEASON: 16-0, won Class 4AA state championship
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 9 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: This year's senior class. The group of players that left Butler last year were among the most talented to ever go through Butler. It might be followed by the Class of 2013, but what falls in the middle may be murky. Gone are Kris Frost, Deion Walker, Austin Stewart, Mark Bridges, Jahwan Edwards and Colin Parsons. That will be quite a load to replace - and the current group of seniors does not include a player with Division I offers.

STRENGTH: The rising group of juniors could be among the best in the state but it is certainly much thinner than the group that just left. Peter Kalambayi, a linebacker, could be among the best linebackers in the state and already has offers from ACC and SEC schools. Quarterback Riley Ferguson gained invaluable experience starting as a sophomore while Christian LeMay was dismissed from the team. His top target will be Uriah LeMay, the younger brother of Chrisitan. That trio will have to step up to lead the team.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Kalambayi battled injury as a sophomore while Uriah LeMay and Ferguson took to the field every week. This year will be a big year for Kalambayi's leadership and ability to shine. At 6-foot-2 and over 220 pounds, he has the prototypical size and strength that schools are looking for and this junior season will be time for him to step into the spotlight.

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Gone is head coach Mike Newsome. Taking over is his former offensive coordinator, Brian Hales. Changing at the top of this team could make it tough to turn the corner into a perennial national power. The book is still out on how Hales will manage expectations from the fan base as well as the administration.

Top 100 countdown
No. 47 Bellevue, Washington

COACH: Butch Goncharoff
LAST SEASON: 13-1, won Class 3A state championship
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 3 in Washington

KEEP AN EYE ON: The closing gap in Class 3A. This has been Bellevue's classification to lose for the better part of the last five years, if not longer. But this year, it could be a toss-up at best with a very talented Lakewood Lakes team approaching in the rearview mirror. The team has grown accustomed to playing with a target on its back but maybe not with it being so in focus.

STRENGTH: Bellevue became famous for its shell-game style Wing-T offense. In the past, it helped lead the team to wins over Long Beach Poly and ended the win streak of De La Salle - and it is still the biggest strength the team has. It is precise and very hard to slow down, let alone stop. Getting to the Tacoma Dome is the goal every year and this style of play and its difficulty to prepare for nearly assures the return trip.

STAR OF THE SHOW: The beauty, and maybe the curse, of the Wing-T is that it spreads the wealth and doesn't allow teams to key in on one player. It forces a lot of players into anonymity. Jake Eldrenkamp, an offensive tackle, has a couple of offers to Division I schools and may be the highest profile senior on the team, but to say he is a star may not be true. That has nothing to do with him but rather the system he is in.

QUITE A STAFF: As if the Wolverines needed an additional leg up on the competition with Butch Goncharoff being one of the best high school head coaches in America, his staff this year will have former Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Mora on the sidelines. Former All-Prop James Hasty will be the defensive coordinator, his son will be the quarterback for the team.

Top 100 countdown
No. 46 Colquitt County, Georgia

COACH: Rush Propst
LAST SEASON: 9-6
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 8 in Georgia

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the defense responds to last season. For the first time in the history of Georgia football, a team that gave up more than 400 points in the season reached a state final as Colquitt County managed to allow 473 points last year - or nearly 32 per game. Coach Rush Propst said that those numbers can not be duplicated if the team wants to make a return trip.

STRENGTH: An explosive group of offensive players will pace the team that is expected to push for a state title this year. The group will be led by junior quarterback Cole Seagraves, a 6-foot-4 dual-threat player who Propst predicts will throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards. If he is able to do that, the success of the team may be a foregone conclusion.

STAR OF THE SHOW: With all the talent that Colquitt County has, the star of the show is still its head coach, Propst. All eyes will be on how the coach recovers from throat cancer that has affected his time spent with the team this summer. With rumors circulating that he may not be long with Colquitt County, the controversial coach will be in the spotlight all year.

GET IN LINE: A point of strength this year could be the offensive line. With Bryce Giddens and Preston Mobley already having Division I offers, the ability to blow opponents off the ball will be a big factor as the team is playing in one of the toughest regions in all of Georgia.

QUOTABLE: "We will need to get more mature," Propst said. "If we think we can come out with an attitude that we don't need to improve and get better we won't. Right now we are good on paper but I don't know if we are good on the field."

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