August 6, 2012

Preseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 10-6

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Dallas Jackson is the High School Football analyst for Rivals.com. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Rivals.com began its 2012 countdown last Monday, 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. 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.

View the complete rankings timeline if you missed anything | Final 2011 Expanded Rankings

Top 100 countdown
No. 10 Trinity, Kentucky

Coach: Bob Beatty
Last Season: 16-0, Won Kentucky Class 6A and RivalsHigh 100 National Championship. Ranked No. 1 nationally.
Key Player: Quarterback Travis Wright. Wright is the lowest ranked player in the Rivals.com database for this talented senior class but he is by far the most important piece to the offensive puzzle. Wright has taken to re-writing the Trinity record books in completion percentage, yards, touchdowns -- and for a school that has produced some darn good ones, that is impressive.
The offense returns just four starters and lost its entire offensive line. That is bad news for any school but with these four standout players returning, Trinity could overcome those losses. Receiver James Quick is one of the best receivers in the country and running back Dalyn Dawkins has proven to be a very effective North-South runner when most everything about his stature would indicate he should try to dance to daylight.
The defense returns five starters from last year including two of the most talented players in the state. Defensive end Jason Hatcher recently committed to USC and cornerback Ryan White is headed to Vanderbilt. According to Coach Beatty, White has the potential to be an NFL-level cornerback and he can absolutely shut down most anyone in the country. His ability on special teams to change field position is invaluable as well.
It's not No. 1 because it is impossible to predict what the offensive line will look like. Losing five starters on the offensive line is tough on any school but when two of those five wound up at Division I football programs it could prove impossible to replace.
The bottom line is Trinity still has its best players from last year on the field and, the way the offense works, this team can still be nationally elite. The schedule is identical to last season but, like Trinity, many of those teams took a step back entering this season. Unless the offensive line is much better than expected a repeat of a national title may not going to be in the cards this season. There is a lot of talent on this team but everything will be predicated on whether the offensive line can protect Wright and open holes for Dawkins.

Top 100 countdown
No. 9 Good Counsel, Maryland

Coach: Bob Milloy
Last Season: 12-0, Washington D.C. Catholic League Champions. Ranked No. 6 nationally.
Key Player: Quarterback Brendan Marshall. The Virginia commit will be at the helm of a team that may prove to be better than the 2011 version that nearly ended inside the Top 10 nationally. The 6-foot-5 pro-style quarterback will not have Stefon Diggs at his disposal this season but with three offensive lineman and a running back returning, plus plenty of other talent around him there will be plenty of opportunity to make plays. He will not have to win the game for Good Counsel, just manage the attack and be sure to put 21 points on the board because few teams will be able to match that number when facing Good Counsel's defense.
The offense returns six starters from last season including three on the offensive line. The group is lead by Michael Konrad and will be a key cog in the success of the offense. Dorian O'Daniel is headed to Clemson as a linebacker but said his heart is still with the running back position and he will have one more season to play the position. He is the most talented player on that side of the ball and could shoulder a heavy load this season.
The defense also returns six starters from last year and may have one of the best defensive backfields in the country. Led by the top cornerback in the nation, Virginia Tech commit Kendall Fuller, the group also boasts four-star Kirk Garner (Virginia), two-star C.J. Jones (multiple offers), and 2014 standout Kobie Walker (multiple offers). Good Counsel's secondary should make it nearly impossible for opponents to move the ball through the air. The linebacker group is nearly as impressive with O'Daniel roaming that side of the field alongside Reggie McGee (Houston) and two-star Damien Carr (multiple offers).
It's not No. 1 because the defensive line is a concern. With as much as the team does return there is major concerns about what will happen when the team faces a team that has the size up front to really punish a new line. The group has to find people to fill the shoes of four-star Ryan Watson (now at Purdue) and three-star Roderick Chungong (now at Georgia Tech), among others. Those players could be on campus but they need to be seen.
The bottom line is with games against Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, Baltimore (Md.) Gilman, and Montvale (N.J.) St. Joe's in the first three week some questions will be answered and this ranking could move towards the top of the country or it could slide down towards the middle of the pack. The talent and the coaching is in place to win a national title this year. 

Top 100 countdown
No. 8 Bellevue, Washington

Coach: Butch Goncharoff
Last Season: 14-0, Washington Class 3A Champions. Ranked No. 8 nationally.
Key Player: Quarterbacks Jack Meggs or Timmy Haehl. There is a lot of optimism in Washington that either Meggs or Haehl, or both, can adequately fill in for the now-at- Oregon State Tyler Hasty because they are both more of a pure quarterback that each have the ability to run or pass whereas Hasty, who brought some blazing speed to the position, was limited in his ability to move the ball through the air. It is a major question mark for the team entering this year but with what is returning around either player -- and the system that has been in place at Bellevue -- should make it a smooth transition.
The offense returns seven starters from last year including a lot of talented options in the backfield. The shell-game that is the Bellevue Wing-T is an amazing offense to watch and with UCLA commit Myles Jack, two-star Rueben Mwehla, Ari Morales and 2014 standout Bubba Baker all able to run the ball, plus two dual-threat quarterbacks, this could be as deadly a team as there has ever been at Bellevue. The offensive line returns four players that saw significant time last season and will be ready to fire off the ball and move this group towards a national title.
The defense returns eight starters including linebacker Sean Constantine. The group is not as heralded as the offensive unit but it will still be very solid. The group was relatively young in 2011 but still allowed less than two touchdowns per game. The loss of James Hasty will certainly be felt on this side of the ball but it should be able to overcome with numbers and experienced play.
It's not No. 1 because the quarterback position is unsettled and both trenches are a concern. The loss of Hasty at quarterback to combined with the loss of its best two offensive lineman, Jake Eldrenkamp (now at Washington) and two-star Micahel Kneip may be more hard to replace then the Wolverines want to admit.
The bottom line is most questions about the offensive and defensive lines will be immediately answered as the team will play host to Euless (Texas) Trinity to open the season. While Trinity may have limitations of its own, the issues for the Trojans are never up front on the offensive and defensive lines. The depth of Bellevue will be tested as well as the effectiveness of the Wing-T right from the gate. It is one of the few times that a top tier team from Washington would be favored over a top tier team from Texas and there is plenty on the line early.

Top 100 countdown
No. 7 Byrnes, South Carolina

Coach: Chris Miller
Last Season: 13-2, Won South Carolina Class 4ADI title. Ranked No. 20 nationally.
Key Player: Quarterback Shuler Bentley. Son of former head coach and current offensive coordinator Bobby Bentley, the younger Bentley started last season as a sophomore and led Byrnes to a state title and is expected to do the same this year. The 6-foot-1 pro-style passer fell just shy of 3,500 yards passing last year and figures to post a number north of that this year. With the offense returning its top receivers and losing its best running back, Bentley could leave the school owning its record book through the air.
The offense returns seven starters including receivers Akia Booker, Trey Barron, and Tavin Richardson. The offensive line was incredibly young last year, starting three sophomores. Coach Miller commented during the Gaffney (S.C.) High game that if there was a year to get over on Byrnes it was last year because this group was going to be dominant the next few years. No one was able to keep Byrnes from claiming another state title and this group could push the South Carolina flag bearer to the top line nationally.
The defense returns six starters, including a nearly complete secondary. The defensive side of the ball is not loaded with talent as it has been in the past but could be a nasty no-name group that proves to be one of the best in the country. The linebacker group could also be a strength in the team's hybrid 3-3-5 scheme. This aggressive unit could be tested early but should be ready for the challenge.
It's not No. 1 because the defensive line is a concern. The team lost nearly everyone up front and will have to restock the shelves quickly. There is the talent to fill the holes left, and Coach Miller has proven time and again his defense will be ready for the challenge.
The bottom line is Byrnes, like many teams in this area of the rankings, will be tested early with a major out-of-state game against Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith. While that will likely test the secondary more so than the front three, it should give a good example of the kind of pressure the line can get and how much time the secondary can cover if the quarterback has all day to throw the ball. South Carolina as a whole is a little down this year but with Byrnes' region being put back together it could have the schedule to make a run to No. 1.

Top 100 countdown
No. 6 B.T. Washington, Florida

Coach: Tim Harris
Last Season: 12-2, Florida Class 4A runner- up. Ranked No. 98 nationally.
Key Player: Linebacker Matthew Thomas. It is rare for a linebacker to be the key player on a team but the five-star talent is impossible to overlook even on a team with a ton of stars. Thomas is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound athlete with 4.6 speed and a ridiculous 35-inch vertical who can rush the passer, shut down the run or run with receivers. He sets the pace on what could be among the most talented rosters in the country.
The offense returns nine starters from last season including quarterback, Treon Harris. A coach's son, Harris threw for over 1,300 yards and rushed for nearly 1,000 as a sophomore and should improve entering his junior season. Obviously, with nine players returning, nearly all of his weapons are back at his disposal. Running backs D'von Ballard and Krondis Larry led the team last year and figure to follow behind the massive Denver Kirkland-led offensive line to put up a lot of points this season.
The defense also returns nine starters from last season and, with Thomas and junior pass rushers Chad Thomas, the group should wreak havoc on opponents. The secondary will be tough to move the ball on with three-star Florida State commit Michael Johnson being joined by Darren Parker and Nigel Patten in the defensive backfield. This is one of the fastest groups in the country and should be able to keep pace with anyone.
It's not No. 1 because it needs to get beyond its own mental errors to take that step. There is not a team that returns as many starters nor as many high-level players to its roster than Booker T. Washington and there are few teams that would be favored in a game, but this is the same team that blew a fourth-quarter lead against Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles and cost itself a state title.
The bottom line is Booker T. Washington will be tested early in a kickoff classic game that no one believes does not count against Miami (Fla.) Northwestern. It will see another test from Miami (Fla.) Central in a game that does officially count before traveling to Texas to take on Cedar Hill in a game that could be very meaningful for its chances at a national title. The Cedar Hill game may be more of a mental test after playing rivals-school Miami Central and so the team will get to address its focus as it may have to fight off a letdown or stay on its high.

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