Rivals.com today begins its 2011 countdown, 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. 8 - just 10 days from the start of the season.
After that, we will wait until Aug. 27 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.
Coach: Ken Potter
Last Season: 9-4, Class 6A semifinalist. Ranked No. 3 in Oregon.
Fast Fact: Portland Jesuit is a team that features a power-I offense with many jumbo packages and multiple running backs. One of the most successful teams in Oregon throughout the Rivals.com era, Jesuit has had more running backs (five) go on to play college football than any other position.
Key Player: Two-way player Doug Brenner. Brenner is listed in the Rivals.com database as a 6-foot-3 defensive tackle that tips the scales at 275 pounds. He will line up as the teams fullback on offense and can deliver a load behind three-star Washington commit Andrew Kirkland (6-5, 285) and Max Rich (6-7, 280). Brenner has the role of being a physical gap closer on defense and gap creator on offense.
The Good: The rushing attack. With the two big bodies in Kirkland and Rich, as well as "fullback" Brenner paving the way, this team will be able to unleash A.J. Glass on opponents again this season. Glass, who transferred to Jesuit from West Linn, became the sixth player in school history to top 2,000 yards as a junior and a repeat could be expected this season. The team also has a group of talented sophomores that it could look to break in as well. All-in-all, this running game will continue to be a hallmark of the team and could be the benchmark in the state.
The Bad: While it is nitpicking due to the reliability of the rushing attack, Jesuit will enter this season without a trusted quarterback. In 2011, the team plugged the athletic Nick Rothstein into the role and he led the squad to a state semifinals appearance. This year the team may just need a game manager to keep the ball off the ground, but that is something that still has to materialize.
The bottom line is with an offensive line that could average 6-foot-3 and 280-pounds and a returning tailback and talented backups, the expectations are pretty high for Jesuit this year. In 2011 there were four very good teams at the top level of Oregon football and this year it could be a half-step back from that. This is the team circled to win it all heading into the 2012 season.
Top 100 countdown
No. 94 Lincoln, California
Coach: Brian Gray
Last Season: 11-2, Sac-Joaquin Division I semifinalist. Ranked No. 24 in California.
Fast Fact: Lincoln will open its regular season with Elk Grove (Calif.) High. There is plenty of speculation that neither team wanted to play this game, let alone as a season opener, and that caused it to be a one-year deal. Both are preseason Top 10 teams in NorCal and one will likely suffer a major setback to a Bowl game berth with a loss.
Key Player: Quarterback Zack Greenlee. There will be plenty of attention on running back Justin Davis and rightfully so, but the key to the season will likely be Greenlee. The No. 89 overall player in California has developed and impressed over the summer circuit, even if his offer list is still lonely with just Fresno State willing to take a chance on him. His performance at the Las Vegas Elite 11 has inspired a lot of confidence entering the season.
The Good: The offense is loaded. The Trojans scored more than 30 points in all but two games last season, both of which resulted in a loss. The team returns plenty on the offensive side of the ball, including the sparkplug to it all, Davis. As a junior, Davis rushed for 2,599 yards and 39 touchdowns while being named the NorCalPreps.com Division I Player of the Year. A return to those numbers - or a push for more - could lead this team to the next level.
The Bad: The defense. For as much as Lincoln was scoring, it was also giving up a lot of points as well. Giving up 22 points per game is not what elite teams do and for this squad to maintain its rankings in NorCal and the nation it will need to improve there. The team has more turnover on the defensive side of the ball than on offense, which could be good or bad depending on how the new players fill the holes. If they create more problems, then it will be a quick fall from the rankings list.
The bottom line is there will be no need to wait and see with this group. Before September is over, Lincoln will play Elk Grove, Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove, Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's and Granite Bay (Calif.) High. If the team makes it out of that stretch without a blemish it could find itself cruising towards a date with Concord (Calif.) De La Salle in the newly formed CIF Regional Bowl game. If Lincoln falls to St. Mary, as it has every year since 2005, it will all be a moot point.
Top 100 countdown
No. 93 Centennial, Arizona
Coach: Richard Taylor
Last Season: 11-2, Class 5A-DII semifinalist. Ranked No. 4 in Arizona.
Fast Fact: Centennial football has been in the Final Four in Arizona every season since 2004 and won state titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The team has made the playoffs every year since 2001 and won its region title every year from 2003-2011.
Key Player: Two-way player Jalen Ortiz. Ortiz burst onto the scene as a two-way player during his sophomore year and has been climbing the rankings since. He has the ability to do a lot of things from many different positions on the field, scoring on offense, defense, and special teams. Piling up 23 touchdowns as a junior is the bar for him to jump over as a senior.
The Good: The talent is all over the roster. While Ortiz may be the best football player on the team, the best prospect is Marcus Farria, who was pushed to a four-star ranking by Rivals.com. With Hayden Johnson and Spencer Nathe on the offensive line and plenty of athletes all around, this is a squad that could push for another state title in 2012.
The Bad: Team unity could be in question. There are rumors around the program that the team has yet to jell. Some of that has been centered around Farria and his ability to fit into the group. Farria moved to Centennial from New Orleans and his recruiting stock is soaring as a 6-feet-4, 225-pound defensive end, but his place in the fold has been tenuous to find. Chemistry issues have derailed plenty of teams in the past and that could be a similar situation here.
The bottom line is with the state being on the rise, Centennial will need to fly right from the kick of the season. Defending state champion Desert Vista is on the outside looking in of the preseason RivalsHigh 100 and the cry for respect will certainly galvanize that team. If Centennial is having the chemistry issues that some are hinting at, that could be a divisive force and sink the ship. If the team is able to come together, a run at the state title is certainly not out of the question.
Top 100 countdown
No. 92 Bishop McDevitt, Penna.
Coach: Jeff Weachter
Last Season: 13-3, Class AAA runner-up. Ranked No. 10 in Pennsylvania.
Fast Fact: Bishop McDevitt has been playing football since 1927 and has won just one state championship in 1995. The program is currently experiencing its longest run of continued success winning four District 3 titles in the last seven seasons and playing for two others after not winning one in seven seasons from 1997-2004.
Key Player: Quarterback Alec Werner. Werner is a likely FBS-level quarterback and he is the key to success for this group. The team has been led by the running game for the last decade with LeSean McCoy and Jameel Poteat, among others, pacing the program. This year, without a major prospect in the backfield, it will be on the arm of Werner to keep the string of success going.
The Good: The cupboards aren't bare. Werner and receiver Brian Lemelle can provide an offensive punch and there are always going to be a couple of players that can step up at running back for this school. The defensive backfield will feature Darnell Holland and Nate Monroe, so that should help limit the big plays that have plagued the secondary in recent seasons.
The Bad: Five-star defensive end Noah Spence and linebacker Brock Dean are gone. No matter how you slice that or how good anyone feels about what is coming through the program, Spence was one of the best to ever walk the halls at McDevitt and replacing him on defense will be incredibly difficult. The defense has been strong as a unit over the past couple of seasons, but it has had at least one star to lead the group and this year it will be a lunch-bucket crew that has to get the work done.
The bottom line is this is a down year for Pennsylvania football. Class AAA is down. Southeastern Pennsylvania is down. The overall talent in the state is down. McDevitt will have a showdown game against Harrisburg (Pa.) Central Dauphin in the second week of the season and that game could push one or both teams out of the rankings. The bright side to this storm cloud is that this team could be the shining star in Class AAA and take home its second ever state title.
Top 100 countdown
No. 91 Norland, Florida
Coach: Daryle Heidelburg
Last Season: 15-0, Florida Class 5A State Champions. Ranked No. 12 nationally.
Fast Fact: Former University of Miami head football coach Randy Shannon was a graduate of Miami Norland. Other graduates include Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe and New Orleans Saints defensive back Mike McKenzie.
Key Player: Duke Johnson's replacement. That may be a bit broad, but as good as the team will be with returning players on the defensive side of the ball - despite losing four players to college programs - the offense was the Duke Show. Whichever player has to fill the shoes of the No. 1-ranked all-purpose running back will have a lot of eyes on him. The talent pool is deep enough that someone will likely emerge, but who that will be remains to see seen.
The Good: The defensive line. Coaches at Norland are very excited about this group of players and believe they will keep the team in play for another state title in Class 5A. Paul James, Torrin Young, Rafiki Lindsay, and Anari Ragin could be one of the best lines in the state and may prove to be one of the better groups in the country. If those four can allow the linebackers to make plays in the run game and provide constant pressure to opposing quarterbacks, it will help out the secondary in a big way.
The Bad: Really, Duke Johnson is gone. In his three years at Norland, Johnson ran for more than 5,000 yards (including 2,000 as a senior) and scored 71 touchdowns. He scored five of those touchdowns in the state title game. The team was one of the highest scoring teams in the country, but it was all built around Johnson, who would also play quarterback (and run from shotgun) when needed. There is no single player that can replace what he did and there may not be a collection of players who can.
The bottom line is Norland is the second smallest of the six major football schools in Miami and it may now be the least talented on offense. Between Miami Central, Northwestern, Columbus, Belen Jesuit, and Booker T. Washington, there is a lot of competition for just about everything and Norland will have to continue to prove it belongs in the discussion with the big boys. The run of success over the last three years has certainly coincided with the Duke Johnson era. Whether or not that run will continue remains to be seen.