August 3, 2013

Preaseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 50-46

MORE: Nos. 55-51 - Nos. 60-56 - Nos. 65-61 - Nos. 70-66 - Nos. 75-71 - 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. 50 Sycamore, Ohio

Coach: Scott Dattilo
Last Season: 9-2, lost in first round of Division I players
Key Player: As a junior inside linebacker, Tinashe Bere piled up 85 tackles for the Aviators and was a standout in the region. The three-star prospect has committed to Duke, and he continues to push for a ranking among his state's top players. At 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, he is a prototypical inside linebacker for the region. He likes to play downhill and stuff running backs. He will have plenty of chances to do that this season.
The Good: The program won nine games and got a lot of experience last season, and that should carry over. The roster graduated 19 seniors, none of whom was an offensive lineman, from its 80 players, and the team will rely on a lot of younger kids who saw plenty of action last year. There are not a ton of high-level prospects, but the MAC schools should pluck a few players out of each class. Running back Greg Simpson has an offer from Western Michigan, and at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds he would figure to be a good fit. Class of 2015 linebacker Phillip Silverman is getting early looks from Indiana, among others, and at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds it is easy to see why.
The Bad: The offense was so reliant last season on Simpson that there is a major cause for concern as to what will be around him. He scored four rushing touchdowns and threw for another in the playoff loss to Elder, but there was no confidence shown from Sycamore when he went out for a few plays with a leg injury. While one man can carry a team, it generally is not a team that ends in the RivalsHigh 100.
The Bottom Line: It often is overshadowed by the Greater Catholic League in Cincinnati, but there should be more respect for the Greater Miami Conference. This year starts with Colerain and Sycamore ranked. To draw comparisons to other teams in the rankings, Sycamore reminds many experts of a Cincinnati version of Pickerington (Ohio) Central. The two share many of the same earmarks. How the young players will improve is a major question but after a nine-win season it seems like the next step shouldn't be too tough to take.

Top 100 countdown
No. 49 North Cobb, Georgia

Coach: Shane Queen
Last Season: 11-3, lost in Class AAAAAA semifinals
Key Player: Quarterback Tyler Queen is a three-year starter but is still just a junior, and the class of 2015 pro-style prospect has committed to Auburn. At the recently completed National Select 7-on-7, he showed the arm strength of a major BCS-level player and the command of the offense that would be expected of a multiyear starter. Queen does not look the part at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, but it is hard to argue with the results.
The Good: Queen is not alone on offense because the Warriors are developing plenty of playmakers. Playing receiver will be two-star athlete Jalil Kuku and a group of 6-foot-plus players in 6-foot-1 Devin Jackson, 6-foot-1 Tony Perkins and 6-foot-3 Devin Granville. Two-star running back J'Vonte Herrod looks like a linebacker and has plenty of quickness and soft hands. He is searching for his first offer, and a standout season would help.
The Bad: Outside of three-star defensive back Cameron Albright, there does not look like much is there on defense. North Cobb gave up nearly 21 points per game last season and went down in a shootout loss to Lovejoy (Ga.) High in the semifinals, 63-42. It will need to have a couple of young players step up to push to the next level.
The Bottom Line: There are mixed reviews on North Cobb from those who cover the program. Some say this group is a legitimate state challenger, while others believe this is a paper tiger that will be soft come playoff time. The consensus seems to be that midseason games against Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove and Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern will be important indicators.

Top 100 countdown
No. 48 Manatee, Florida

Coach: Joe Kinnan
Last Season: 13-1, lost in Class 7A semifinals. Ranked No. 27 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Despite offers from Marshall, Minnesota, Missouri, USF, Toledo and Tulane, 5-foot-10, 189-pound Trevon Walters is relatively overlooked in South Florida running back discussions. Returning after a 1,100-yard season, he will be the focal point of the offense because the Hurricanes will have to replace three-year starter Cord Sandberg at quarterback. Manatee likes to be balanced, but the majority of the non-quarterback runs will go to Walters.
The Good: While much of the spotlight on the defensive line last season was on Derrick Calloway, returning senior Demarcus Christmas was the more important player. Christmas is a four-star prospect who is committed to Florida State. He had double-digit sacks last season, as well as 70 tackles, from the defensive line. Manatee is usually a strong unit on that side of the ball, and it will start in the trenches this season.
The Bad: Replacing a quarterback who committed to Mississippi State before agreeing to terms to play professional baseball will be tough. Manatee enters summer practices with several options but no obvious leader as three potential replacements took snaps last year and throughout the offseason. Along with Walters, the starter will have Temple commit Brodrick Yancy and Maquel Hines on the outside, but none will be able to duplicate the 35-to-1 touchdown-to-interception performance of Sandberg last year.
The Bottom Line: Manatee will be an interesting team to watch in the first three weeks of the season. It will take on a Baltimore (Md.) Gilman team that could look quite similar to Manatee itself. The next week, it will play an under-the-radar Venice (Fla.) High team that returns 17 starters. Next, Manatee squares off with a talented Washington (D.C) Friendship Collegiate squad. Manatee opens the season favored in all of those games, but depending on how the offense develops the program could swap with Plant as the slow starter that is one to watch late in the year.

Top 100 countdown
No. 47 First Coast, Florida

Coach: Marty Lee
Last Season: 10-1, lost in first round of Class 7A playoffs
Key Player: Pro-style quarterback De'Andre Johnson committed to Florida State last July -- as a sophomore -- and he led the team to 10 wins again. The vast majority of the talent at First Coast is on the defensive side, which should be good for playoff time, but getting the ball into the end zone was a struggle at times last year. The Buccaneers were held to 21 points or fewer in four of 11 games, including a 10-7 loss in the playoffs. That has to improve.
The Good: Only two teams got to 20 points last season, and that may decrease this year. The defensive line has Auburn commit Raashed Kennion and Cincinnati commit Spencer Williams. Its linebacker group features class of 2015 South Carolina pledge Sherrod Pittman. The secondary may be its most talented group with three-star Rutgers commit Kamren Lott, three-star Iowa State commit Reggan Northrup, Division I prospect Raekwon Wiliams and Eric Martin.
The Bad: The offense is very troubling. The team barely broke the 1,000-yard mark running the ball, and its passing attack completed only 55 percent of its attempts. It also graduated all seven of its top receivers, so Johnson will be trying to build relationships with an entirely new group. Junior Jerard Washington has the talent to make an impact, but it will have to happen quickly.
The Bottom Line: First Coast may fit better in South Georgia football than it does in Florida. The defense-first approach will keep the team in many games and give the program a chance to win, but it will need to score points. Class 8A is wide open this year, and this group looks as talented as any. There could be an early indicator game against Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood to see if this team has the offense to make a run.

Top 100 countdown
No. 46 Cedar Hill, Texas

Coach: Joey McGuire
Last Season: 11-5, lost in 5A-DII state finals. Ranked No. 58 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Class of 2015 wide receiver Damarkus Lodge is set to be a difference maker for the Longhorns. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound prospect made his presence known last season and has burst onto the scene this summer to put the state on notice. He is an excellent route runner and has good speed. He had a great 7-on-7 season and added double-digit offers. Even with the talent that is around him, there are going to be chances for Lodge to stand out and make plenty of top plays.
The Good: With seven starters returning, this is a Texas defense worth highlighting. It is yet to be determined if the talent will equal production, but that talent is topnotch. Returning will be three players in the secondary who stood out: three-star Oklahoma commit Marcus Green leads the way, and he is supported by two-stars Tadarrian Luster and Jonathan Buffin. The front seven will be anchored by linebacker Doveon Dillard, two-star defensive end Xavier Washington and Richard Moore.
The Bad: All of those players were on the roster last season, and Cedar Hill gave up 465 points -- an average of nearly 30 points per game -- and lost five contests. Nearly all of its losses were against elite teams, but most of those are still on the schedule.
The Bottom Line: Cedar Hill is locked in to the 5A-DII route, and it is expected to make a run to the finals again. The program dropped only Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington from the non-district schedule, so it will lock up with Denton (Texas) Guyer, Allen (Texas) High and Beaumont (Texas) Ozen before playing against DeSoto (Texas) High. A 4-0 start would likely jump this group to the top of the rankings, but a 1-3 start would likely signal an exit from the poll.

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



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