July 24, 2011

Last 10 out of the RivalsHigh 100

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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.

The schools read like a roll call from RivalsHigh 100 rankings past.

Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial ... Southlake (Texas) Carroll ... River Ridge (La.) John Curtis ... Anaheim (Calif.) Servite ... and Novi (Mich.) Detroit Catholic Central, among others.

This year, however, they are on the wrong side of the who's hot and who's not debate.

For the 10 schools in this list, the RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings that will begin their release on Monday will not include them.


Glad you asked.

We feel we're pretty thorough here at RivalsHigh. So while the next two weeks will be spent telling you who's in the rankings, today is the day to tell you why these 10 schools were the last 10 out.

It is important to note that these teams will be put through the same evaluations once the season begins as those starting inside of the RivalsHigh 100; performance on the field determines whether or not they are the first group of teams that will join the regular season rankings once teams begin play.

But for now, these 10 teams have something to prove.

RivalsHigh 100: The 10 that just missed
Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Why it should be in: The Friars are the defending Pac-5 Champions from Southern California. They return eight on offense and several top players on defense, including linebacker Butch Pauu and lineman Travis Averill. The team had climbed up to No. 9 in the RivalsHigh 100 last year and is always among the better teams nationally.
Why it missed: The overall evaluations of Southern California football are a little down across the board this year and that includes Servite. The team loses a lot on the defensive side of the ball, mainly in the secondary, and it could be exploited by pass-friendly teams in its league. Not to be underestimated is the loss of Connor Loftus, a senior kicker who managed field position very well for the team last year.
Apopka (Fla.) High
Why it should be in: Apopka is generally one of the better teams out of the Orlando area every year and many think this could be a very good season for the team. The Blue Darters nearly always run through district play undefeated and, despite poor playoff results, are generally a tough out, even when they lose as favorites.
Why it missed: The strength of the team this year should be in the trenches, with four-star lineman Ty Darlington, and that is usually a great thing in high school football. However, when it came to direct comparison to teams that did get into the rankings - namely Winter Park - the skill set players paled in comparison. In Florida, you do need some star players to make things happen in crunch time and those guys are not going to be on the offensive line.
Daphne (Ala.) High
Why it should be ranked: This team proved its mettle in an undefeated run to the Alabama Class 6A title last season over favorite, and national power, Hoover (Ala.) High. It beat other Alabama name brand teams along the way and could do so again this year. The team also returns its star offensive player - running back T.J. Yeldon - and it boasts Alabama commit Ryan Anderson on the defensive line.
Why it missed: It didn't miss by much, and with eight returning players on defense, it was hard to keep this team out. But with the quarterback play in Alabama expected to be on the rise, entering the year without a signal caller makes it tough to place a heavy bet on a team to repeat its performance and return to the state title game - a game it won last year by a single point, 7-6. T.J. Fleeton had a great National Select 7 on 7 performance but facing a schedule that includes Foley, Fairhope, McGill-Toolen and Williamson is a tough proposition for a brand new quarterback.
Eugene (Ore.) Sheldon
Why it should be ranked: There is a logjam atop the rankings in Oregon with Aloha, Portland Jesuit and Sheldon all being cycled through its top spot in preseason evaluations. The team returns several of its best players from an 11-1 team last year and a similar performance is expected.
Why it missed: The same reason it nearly got in - a logjam atop the rankings in Oregon. The evaluations showed that the team returning so few starters was better to start at the No. 3 position and chase the lead dogs rather than try to set the pace. If there was more experience on the offensive line, it is likely this team could have made it in.
Novi (Mich.) Detroit Catholic Central
Why it should be ranked: A traditionally successful program from Michigan marched as high as No. 7 in 2009 - finishing at No. 9 - and is in a position to make a strong charge again this season. The team almost always has one of the best defenses in the state and is certain to make a run in the playoffs after battling through a tough schedule.
Why it missed: In 2010, it was Jekyl and Hyde for Catholic Central. When the team played teams it was superior to, it would score in the 30s. When it played teams its equal, the offense was gone. In three losses, it scored a total of 17 points - and it will have to go through those same teams again this year, playing in one of the toughest districts in the country. Until it shows it has the offense to play with the best, it will not be ranked among them.
Peoria (Ariz.) Centennial
Why it should be ranked: The team has been to the Arizona state championship five straight years and has a history of success and RivalsHigh 100 rankings. The secondary could be among the best in the state and moving the ball on the team could be very difficult. The young talent on the team could push it to the top of the rankings in the years to come.
Why it missed: While Centennial will start behind frontrunners Hamilton and Chaparral, it could move quickly past the pair in the very near future. The team has a ton of young talent on the field this year, but with just two returning starters on offense and four on defense, it was hard to feel comfortable with a national ranking. The schedule is very favorable to success but just banking on a hot start does not mean the team will be deserving of rankings.
Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern
Why it should be ranked: Entering the season, McEachern has been evaluated somewhere between the No. 6 and No. 10 team in Georgia. Generally a team that grades out as high as No. 6 is good for a preseason spot. The team has had good success, including a win over perennial power Lowndes last season, and could be a contender for success in one of the toughest classes in the country.
Why it missed: The team lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball and metro-area teams have not faired well in the tough Georgia playoffs when there are questions on defense. The team also has had a lot of near misses and close wins to feel comfortable entering the season. With games against North Gwinnett and Valdosta High early, it could jump out to a 2-0 record and push into the rankings. But it will need that kind of start to validate itself.
River Ridge (La.) John Curtis
Why it should be ranked: There may not be a better small school team in the country than John Curtis and it has more than earned the benefit of the doubt with numerous state titles, out of state play and one of the best coaches of all time. The team returns plenty of strength in the trenches and could be as big and physical as any in recent history at the private school powerhouse.
Why it missed: In the past few seasons, the overall play has slid a little. Despite trips to the Superdome for state final appearances, it has not been the same Curtis team. This year, the worry is that replacing a quarterback, its top two running backs and its leading receiver would be too much to overcome against the better competition. Games with Franklinton and Westgate will be quick tests to this philosophy.
Solon (Ohio) High
Why it should be ranked: The team is returning seven starters on offense and eight on the defensive side from a squad that went 12-1 in 2010. It is also playing a schedule that sets up with only one game that poses a problem in the regular season when it plays Mentor in early October. With a strong defense, it should be able to make it into the first round of the state playoffs without so much as a test.
Why it missed: The team returns a lot of players, but the ones it lost were Division I caliber and that certainly hurts. The tough-nose defense will likely be able to replace Jovon Johnson and A.J. Hicks at the linebacker position but it is unlikely the replacements will do that same job. The schedule the team plays also hurt it when the last few spots were awarded. Solon will win most all of its first six games by 30 points or more but it will not prove much in those wins.
Southlake (Texas) Carroll
Why it should be ranked: The team took strides in 2010 to get back to the top of the ladder and appears to have plenty of momentum entering the year with expectations of a Texas 5A DII finals appearance already in discussion. The quartet of Peyton Williams, Sabian Holmes, Will Davis and James Prince is starting to put some shine back on the faded star of the Dragons. A 10-0 junior varsity team will be moving up to boost the backline of the defense which returns a modest five starters.
Why it missed: Following the four-loss season in 2010, it was hard to fully commit to the potential of a longtime Texas power returning to its place among the nation's elite. The defense of the Dragons is also concerning; the team gave up a lot of points last year, allowing at least two touchdowns in all but one game. Once it starts playing teams with better defenses, the Dragons' flight to the top could slow significantly. For many years though, the team was able to outscore every opponent and that mentality could be storming back.

PRESEASON RIVALSHIGH 100 COUNTDOWN: The official schedule of release dates


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