August 2, 2013

Preaseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 55-51

MORE: Nos. 60-56 - Nos. 80-76 - Nos. 85-81 - Nos. 90-86 - Nos. 95-91 - Nos. 100-96
Dallas Jackson discusses the RivalsHigh 100 on Yahoo! Sports Radio

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 today is counting down the teams from No. 100 through No. 1.

We started 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 Aug. 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. 55 Arlington Bowie, Texas

Coach: Danny DeArman
Last Season: 11-3, lost in 5A-DI playoffs third round. Ranked No. 35 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Figuring out which quarterback, senior Keaton Perry or junior Tony James, will be the leader of the offense makes for an intriguing battle. Perry was the starter last season but went out with a knee injury, forcing James into action. The team didn't miss a beat as he earned the District Newcomer of the Year award. Perry is more of a pro-style player, while James succeeded in the zone-read style. There may be temptation to split the snaps and use both.
The Good: Whichever quarterback emerges -- or if there is a timeshare -- the rest of the unit is pretty good. The offensive line features three-star Kristopher Thigpen and returns Stephen Young and class of 2015 prospect Madison Akanomu. At receiver, two-star target Jordan Versey and Brian Versey will provide downfield threats. Running back is up in the air, but with the talent on the roster it should be an easy position to fill.
The Bad: With three all-district players on the defensive line and two in the secondary, there will be an obvious void with the linebackers to be filled. The rest of the team likely can mask that spot until players settle in, but in the preseason it stands out. Former defensive coordinator DeArman took over for Kenny Perry as head coach, so that side of the ball likely will receive plenty of attention.
The Bottom Line: Bowie could be a threat to finish inside the top 25 this season, and it would not be a shock to see it happen. There are a lot of talented players on the roster, and it wasn't far away last year. Its non-district schedule includes two challenging rematches. Bowie will look to avenge its loss to Mesquite (Texas) High and to show that its victory last year over Dallas (Texas) Skyline can be duplicated.

Top 100 countdown
No. 54 Moeller, Ohio

Coach: John Rodgenberg
Last Season: 12-3, Division I state champion. Ranked No. 22 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: The athletic Sam Hubbard is one of the lone holdovers for the program. Hubbard committed in his sophomore season to play lacrosse at Notre Dame -- and he is one of the highest-ranked lacrosse players in the nation -- but he has since given a verbal pledge to play football at Ohio State. He checks in at 6-foot-6, 223 pounds, and he figures to play a center field-type position. He will line up in the secondary or closer to the box, depending on the situation. He could present a problem on the defensive line if he were to rush the passer. There are many holes right now, and his ability to fill several spots could be helpful.
The Good: This program was on its way to another disappointing season last year when it lost three of five games -- including a surprising defeat to Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder -- but it defeated Louisville (Ky.) Trinity and had a turning point when it came together and won its first state title in some time. While many of those players are gone, there is still the confidence that comes with learning how to win. This group will look to Hubbard, Elijah Taylor, Stephen Langenkamp and Isaiah Gentry for leadership.
The Bad: Graduation is a known evil in high school football evaluation, but this group was hammered with high-end losses. Keith Watkins, Shane Jones, Alex Gall and Evan Jansen signed with BCS programs, and the team lost others to Division II schools. Unsigned leader Spencer Iacovone will be missed at quarterback.
The Bottom Line: There are a number of younger players who will be asked to contribute and Moeller may take a step back, but it is still a top 10 team in Ohio entering the season. It is a very good year in Cincinnati with St. Xavier, Colerain and Winton Woods -- among others -- so this ranking is fluid. Out-of-state games with Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity, Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral, and Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike could be tests.

Top 100 countdown
No. 53 North Shore, Texas

Coach: David Aymond
Last Season: 13-2, lost in regional final of 5A-DI playoffs
Key Player: Inside linebacker Zach Whitley is ranked in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour, and he is the clear leader of the team. The 6-foot-2, 222-pound prospect committed to Alabama and led the team to the regional finals last year. The group was one of the few programs in the state that played above-average defense. It gave up only 14 points per contest, and it allowed more than 21 only three times.
The Good: The offense was inconsistent despite averaging nearly 42 points per game. It was held under 20 points in four of its last six contests. North Shore returns many players on that side of the ball. Replacing quarterback Micah Thomas could be difficult, and it will likely fall to senior Lawrence McCardell to lead the unit. He will have junior Tristan Houston back at running back and two-star Kevian Deleon at receiver.
The Bad: The last time the team was without Thomas as its quarterback was 2011, when the team didn't make its annual deep trip into the playoffs. While McCardell is likely to step in, he will have to step up. The LaPorte (Texas) High program is right on the heels of North Shore, and District 21 will be competitive with Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial and Deer Park (Texas) High on par or better than last year.
The Bottom Line: During Aymond's tenure at North Shore, the program has been a fixture in the playoffs and it has made many deep runs. That is expected to continue this year. Predicting how Texas will play out is as tough in July as it is in November, and this team will be scrutinized all season. It is unlikely to be a state title contender with the powers in the DFW Metroplex, but it could advance to the regional finals and not be a surprise to anyone.

Top 100 countdown
No. 52 Pickerington Central, Ohio

Coach: Jay Sharrett
Last Season: 7-3, lost in first round of Division I playoffs
Key Player: Stepping to the forefront at a program that generally sends a few players to the next level will be Tawain Gordon. The 6-foot, 298-pound athlete plays running back and will line up a little in the secondary -- at safety -- this season. He has plenty of explosiveness to be a featured back, but his top-end speed projects more as a defensive player at the next level.
The Good: The offense may not have anywhere to go but up after it averaged just 23 points per game last year and was shut out both times it played Pickerington (Ohio) North. While Gordon may be the player asked to make the group go, he will have help at the skill positions. A pair of 6-foot receivers will be on the outside in Andrew Meyer and Rudy Stefantitsas. Meyer enters the season with an offer from Ohio, and plenty of BCS schools are looking to see how he develops.
The Bad: The defense lost four-star end Taco Charlton and steady linebacker Greg Basalyga, and that could have a major impact on the unit. The secondary will have Jason Strange, Isaiah Richmond and Gordon to apply pressure to passing offenses, but to get out of the region in the playoffs the defensive front will need to step up.
The Bottom Line: Outside of Charlton, the team was junior and sophomore heavy last season and it was competitive with Colerain and upstart Pickerington North. That gives this team a buy signal for the upcoming season. The offense will have to perform better, and the defense cannot let up. Ohio is a deep state this year, and the difference between the teams inside the rankings and those that just missed is not much. Early games with Centreville (Ohio) High and Middletown (Ohio) High will be telling.

Top 100 countdown
No. 51 Vista Murrieta, California

Coach: Coley Candaele
Last Season: 13-1, lost in Southern Section finals. Ranked No. 17 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: A three-star, dual-threat quarterback, Coltin Gerhart, will step into the position left by Colorado State signee Nick Stevens. Coltin is the younger brother of former Stanford Cardinal Toby Gerhart and Arizona State center Garth Gerhert, and he has pledged to ASU. At the next level, he will play safety, which indicates that his athletic ability and toughness will be attributes as he moves to quarterback.
The Good: The defense could be among the best in the country. The trio of three-star linebackers is led by Curtis Bolton, who is joined by Greg Hoyd, Tyler Cook and class of 2015 prospect Shannon Walsh. The secondary lost five-star Su'a Cravens but has Arizona commit Kwesi Mashack, three-star Randy Beggs and Davin Howard, as well as Stevens. The defensive line is not as heralded, but it will be strong.
The Bad: The offensive line graduated four seniors and could be tough to replace, but with nearly 100 players on the roster it may be fine. Vista Murrieta will need to find a replacement for Cravens, a do-everything player who averaged 11 yards per carry and 15 yards per catch and was second on the team with 99 tackles from the safety position.
The Bottom Line: There will need to be a toughness check for Vista Murrieta because it was a similarly talented team last year but struggled in games with Highlands Ranch (Colo.) ThunderRidge, San Diego (Calif.) Cathedral Catholic and Norco (Calif.) High before losing to Corona (Calif.) Centennial. The schedule features games with Redlands (Calif.) East Valley, Cathedral Catholic, and Encino (Calif.) Crespi before the playoffs, so there are a few chances to see what this team has before it must navigate the Southern Section.

MORE: Dallas Jackson discusses the RivalsHigh 100 on Yahoo! Sports Radio



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