July 30, 2013

Preseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 90-86

MORE RIVALSHIGH 100: Nos. 95-91 - Nos. 100-96

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Rivals.com continues its 2013 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. The Top 10 will be announced over two days with the preseason No. 1 being named on August 8.

After that, we will wait until the first week of September for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

Top 100 countdown
No. 90 Parkway, Louisiana

Coach: David Feaster
Last Season: 11-2, lost in Class 5A quarterfinals
Key Player: One of the fastest-rising prospects in the country this summer was dual-threat quarterback Brandon Harris, and his development will continue to push this team forward. He is among the top five players at his position in the nation, and he can do many things with the ball. As a junior, he threw for more than 2,500 yards and had a 26-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also ran for nearly 700 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Good: The passing game will be electric with Louisiana Tech commit Broderick Jefferson in the slot and two-star Cory Hamilton on the outside. The class of 2015 provides more weapons with tight end Artayvious Lynn and a stable of running backs -- in all shapes and sizes - capable of contributing.
The Bad: In four of the final six games of last season, the defense allowed 26 points or more. It lost a shootout to Lake Charles (La.) Barbe in the quarterfinals 45-35, and it dropped a stunner to Bossier City (La.) Airline 31-13 weeks earlier. There is a mixed group returning, but it will need to rise to the occasion.
The Bottom Line: Everyone will know right away if this team has what it takes to stay ranked. It will open with talented Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist Academy and its new quarterback, Shae Patterson, who has been making a name for himself on the camp circuit. The schedule has a few other tests progresses before the tough Class 5A playoffs.

Top 100 countdown
No. 89 Brother Rice, Michigan

Coach: Al Fracassa
Last Season: 12-2, won Michigan Division 2 championship. Ranked No. 82 in RivalsHigh 100.
Key Players: As juniors, running backs Brian Walker and Shon Powell combined for nearly 2,500 yards on 380 carries and scored 34 touchdowns. Both return to lead a team that ran 549 times for 3,111 yards and 39 scores. In a physical Catholic Central League, the duo will have to carry that load again.
The Good: Many of the other offensive weapons return, which could make for the most complete Brother Rice team in the last few years. Alex Malzone emerged as a solid quarterback option, splitting time last year and completing nearly 80 percent of his passes while contributing in the ground game. Corey Lacanaria is back at receiver after leading the team with 50 receptions and 772 yards.
The Bad: The defense lost six of its seven top tacklers, all six of its best sack getters and nearly all of its interceptions from last season. The main returner is cornerback Chris Carter, who had 103 tackles, one sack and an interception. He has just one offer from Butler, but this year could be a big one for him to showcase his talents.
The Bottom Line: Brother Rice is likely not going to go undefeated with its schedule -- it rarely does -- but it is the odds-on favorite to win another Division 2 championship and end the season ranked nationally. Its opener against Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius will be a great measuring stick game for both teams. Each is well coached and has high expectations. Contests against Warren (Mich.) De La Salle, Novi (Mich.) Catholic Central and Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary are always tough battles.

Top 100 countdown
No. 88 Valor Christian, Colorado

Coach: Rod Sherman
Last Season: 12-2, won Colorado Class 5A championship
Key Player: With the move by Nathan Starks from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman to Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek, there is a healthy debate within the state about whether he or Christian McCaffrey at Valor Christian is the top prospect. McCaffrey is by far the most important piece to the puzzle for Valor, and the Stanford commit will look to duplicate his 1,400-yard rushing and 700-yard receiving output.
The Good: There is no question that this is the most talented team in Colorado, and it is becoming the state's private school powerhouse. What is different about this year is that the depth is improved and the players in the trenches are bigger and more physical. The offensive line will be held down by 6-foot-4, 300-pound Isaiah Holland and 6-foot-6, 298-pound Alex Ruth, and there are not many defensive tackles in the state who can push through those two.
The Bad: This is still Colorado, and after that front wave of players it can get thin. Measuring this program with others nationally can be tough. There is a new coaching staff with a continuing emphasis on weight training and bringing in more players, but it is a perception battle if this team struggles.
The Bottom Line: Valor is expected to -- and likely will -- manhandle the opponents within its state, and it will be judged against Fresno (Calif.) Central and South Jordan (Utah) Bingham. Bingham defeated Valor Christian last year and ended all hopes of a final ranking. The same outcome could be in the balance when they play this year.

Top 100 countdown
No. 87 North Little Rock, Arkansas

Coach: Brad Bolding
Last Season: 12-2, lost in Arkansas Class 7A semifinals
Key Player: Replacing all-everything running back Altee Tenpenny will be tough, but North Little Rock is the most talented team in the state and it will rely on 6-foot-1, 210-pound Juan Day to step in. Day continues to get bigger and stronger. He is not a burner, but he can be hard to catch in space. He has been committed to Arkansas for a long time and has maintained that pledge.
The Good: Losing Tenpenny could make this team better. The loss of an uber-talented player is hard to overcome, but there will be more balance because the team will not be watching and waiting for Tenpenny to take over a contest. The team still has a lot of talent. Kavin Alexander will move from offense to cornerback. Alexander is the cousin of Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden, and he has showed similar speed by being hand timed in the 4.4-second range for the 40-yard dash. Class of 2015 receiver K.J. Hill is starting to see his recruiting increase and could be among the top juniors in the state.
The Bad: North Little Rock has been producing more prospects than many schools in recent years, but it has had only one season in the last decade with fewer than three losses. Both sides of the ball have had moments of brilliance and spurts of ineptitude, and unless the defense can rise to the occasion it could be more of the same.
The Bottom Line: There was similar hype surrounding this program last year, but it went into Longview (Texas) High and left with a 20-point loss. This season it will host Batesville (Miss.) South Panola as the replacement game, but the measuring stick will still be out. Arkansas football has struggled to take the next step and get onto the same level as Oklahoma and Mississippi, but this game could go a long way toward gaining respect.

Top 100 countdown
No. 86 Opelika, Alabama

Coach: Brian Blackmon
Last Season: 10-5, lost in Alabama Class 6A state championship game
Key Player: Junior quarterback Matthew Christian is a player to circle for improvement, especially if Opelika has designs on making it back to the state finals. He finished the season just above 50 percent in completion percentage but was highly inconsistent. There were three contests in which he completed better than 70 percent mixed with four games of under 40 percent. In the state finals, he was just 4-for-18 with two interceptions.
The Good: There is a healthy swagger about this Opelika team and a group of players on defense that can energize the rest of the group. Alabama commit and four-star defensive back Stephen Roberts is joined in the secondary by South Alabama-bound two-star Malcolm Buggs, and the talent of each is matched by his trash talk. The run through the playoffs last year could catapult this program.
The Bad: There is little about this team not to like. With Roberts and Buggs in the secondary, 800-yard rusher TJ Griffin and leading receivers Marquis Fulton back, Opelika could find its way back to the state finals if it gets improved play at quarterback. The loss of Jakell Mitchell with an ACL is certainly tough but it can be overcome. Confidence could get in the way. All five teams that beat Opelika last year are on the schedule again, and overconfidence could sink the ship.
The Bottom Line: There is nothing holding back Opelika but Opelika. The core of players that led the team to the finals is back. Now that the group has learned how to win, it could go on tilt and do it again. Alabama has very good high school football, so games with Montgomery (Ala.) Lee and Phenix City (Ala.) Central could be just as big a trip-up as Auburn (Ala.) High and Hoover (Ala.) High.

MORE RIVALSHIGH 100: Nos. 95-91 - Nos. 100-96




 

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