August 1, 2013

Preseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 70-66

MORE: Nos. 75 - 71 - 80-76 - 85-81 - 90-86

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. 70 Toledo Whitmer, Ohio

Coach: Jerry Bell
Last Season: 14-1, lost in Division I state finals. Ranked No. 45 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Even in the run-first offense that Whitmer employs, the player who keeps defenses honest is receiver Chris Boykin. The 6-foot-2, 194-pounder tallied 42 catches and 654 yards last season. His ability to stretch the field will be important for the offense as it breaks in a new quarterback and running back.
The Good: The bulk of the defense is turning over, but the secondary brings back four players who should have an impact in keeping the scores low. The most interesting player is Marcus Elliott II, who has early offers from Akron and Bowling Green. The safety had nearly 80 tackles last season, and he will be one of the leading tacklers this year. Fellow safety Tylor Schneider will be back, and he is joined by cornerbacks Max Sutter and Austin Bly.
The Bad: Nick Holley was the leading passer and leading rusher. He is off to Kent State. Me'gail Frisch was right behind him with more 100 carries. The program has been the best in Toledo for the last few years and it has a big roster so there will be internal options, but they likely will not be name-brand players.
The Bottom Line: There are a lot of questions with this team. The Toledo area is pretty awful for football, so there are plenty of games to find comfort and confidence prior to the playoffs. What will be interesting is how the team fares in out-of-state games against Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary Prep and Novi (Mich.) Catholic Central. It may also have a test with Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic, which went 14-1 and won the Division II state title in 2012.

Top 100 countdown
No. 69 Hilliard Davidson, Ohio

Coach: Brian White
Last Season: 10-3, lost in regional finals of Division I playoffs
Key Player: For this team to be successful, it will need to continue its strong defensive play. That could start on the line with returning all-district player Alex Backenstoe. While not many players on the Davidson team are considered next-level prospects, Backenstoe was a force last year, leading the team with 13 tackles for loss. His return will anchor a unit that will make it tough on many opponents.
The Good: Davidson is rarely -- if ever -- a team that relies on star power, but it has always found a way to make a regional final or a trip to states and that figures to continue this year. The triple-option offense requires discipline that many schools do not have to defend, and there are games in which the Wildcats do not throw a pass but chew clock and come out with the victory. This was a very young roster last year that advanced deep into the playoffs, and those players who learned how to win will be invaluable this season.
The Bad: This is not an exciting roster loaded with talent, and it will be challenged to score points. It enters the year as the clear second-best team in Columbus, but that may not mean it ends there because undermanned Davidson teams have emerged in the past to knock off many more talented programs.
The Bottom Line: There is an incredibly short rope for Davidson to hang on for the national rankings. This is a very deep year in Ohio, and that gives this program the benefit of the doubt. It will take on Dublin (Ohio) Coffman on Sept. 20, and that will show a lot of the team's true colors well before a potential playoff rematch with Coffman, a showdown with Pickerington (Ohio) Central, a trip to a Cincinnati power and the state finals. If the team makes that march, it will lock up a nice rankings finish.

Top 100 countdown
No. 68 Plant, Florida

Coach: Robert Weiner
Last Season: 10-2, lost in second round of Class 8A playoffs
Key Player: With a run of quarterbacks including Robert Marve, Aaron Murray and Phillip Ely, it will be on pro-style player Colby Brown to lead the Panthers deep into the playoffs. He struggled with inconsistent performances and ended the year with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as the Panthers went out in the second round of the playoffs. He has impressed this summer, and he looks more mature as a leader. If his choices improve, there is a good chance this team makes it back to the state finals -- where each of the last four starters has taken the team.
The Good: This could be the most talented roster for Plant since it was a preseason No. 1 team with James Wilder and Ely several years ago. Linebacker Andrew Beck is committed to Texas, offensive lineman Ray Raulerson has pledged to Tennessee, and defensive back Austin Hudson announced his intention to go to Wisconsin. The addition of defensive back Mazzi Wilkins and linebacker Richard Bush to the potential Division I players makes this an interesting team to watch in one of the better classes within the state.
The Bad: Brown struggled last season with now-at-Tulane Tristan Cooper, two-star Derrick Mann, and 6-foot-1 target K.J. Walker, and all of those targets are gone. The offensive line is a little better, but it is nothing that stands out as a strength. If Brown does not improve as a passer, the offense will struggle to score and lose a game it shouldn't or get bounced in the playoffs.
The Bottom Line: Plant is a historically slow-starting program -- as evidenced last season when it was ground down by River Ridge (La.) John Curtis -- but it typically advances in the playoffs. This year, it will open with nationally ranked Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby. After leaving for a position at USF, head coach Weiner returned to Plant after less than a week with the Bulls. This could prove to be one of his best teams in the last four years.

Top 100 countdown
No. 67 Mission Viejo, California

Coach: Bob Johnson
Last Season: 11-1, lost in PAC5 second round. Ranked No. 67 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: In an area rife with spread passing attacks, the unsung hero for Mission Viejo may end up being fullback Daniel Marx. The Stanford commit is one of the less heralded players on the team, but he could see his profile rise in a major way. Last year, he was asked to be a blocker, a hole opener and a pass catcher. This year, he may add primary ball carrier and defensive lineman to his resume. At 6-foot-3 and nearly 240 pounds, he could be a poor man's Toby Gerhart. His ball-carrying skills are not there yet, but he could develop them.
The Good: If Marx scuffles carrying the ball, Mission Viejo can rely on its other skill players because the Diablos are loaded. Three-star quarterback Ian Fieber returns, as do Boise State commit Sean Modster at receiver, tight end Zack Holland and another pass-catching option in 6-foot-4 Andrew Schuurs. While Marx will be asked to give balance to the group, Johnson loves the pass attack and should go vertical many times.
The Bad: The offensive line is a work in progress that may be a problem in the long run. The team will take on physical tests from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep and Redlands (Calif.) East Valley before the PAC5 playoffs. The biggest loss is 6-foot-7, 330-pound Eric Bunte, but the group has other holes that will need filling.
The Bottom Line: The Mission Viejo offense routinely has carried the team because the defense has been solid but not spectacular. There are plenty of quality programs in the PAC5, and come playoff time health -- and who is hot -- often has dictated who advances. This group will be judged based on its performance against Don Bosco and its end-of-season results.

Top 100 countdown
No. 66 Glenville, Ohio

Coach: Ted Ginn Sr.
Last Season: 9-2, missed playoffs
Key Player: It has been some time since the Tarblooders had a player like do-it-all Marshon Lattimore. The 6-foot, 185-pound prospect can take over games as a running back, receiver, safety or returner. In one game last year, he had three receiving touchdowns, 100-plus yards rushing and double-digit tackles. There are few players in Ohio who can match him in raw athletic ability, and he is a nightmare to try to stop.
The Good: On paper, this is the best Glenville team in four years because it has talent all over the field. It is hard to point to which side of the ball is better, but the deepest group may be the secondary. Alongside Lattimore will be fellow four-star Erick Smith and three-star Erik Simpson. The linebackers will be held in place by inside backers Christopher Murphy and Terrell Goss, and the defensive front will boast massive Lorenzo Burgess and Christopher Brown. The talent will be tough to overcome.
The Bad: Glenville has had talented teams before but failed to capture a state title, which comes with immediate doubts. The bulk of the pressure will fall on the quarterback position because the playmakers are there and will expect touches. If the team turns against the player who wins the job -- most likely Quan Robinson -- it will make for a long season.
The Bottom Line: Because of the ridiculous way Ohio determines which teams make the playoffs, Glenville could lose its opening game to Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward and be nearly eliminated from the state championship chase because it plays in one of the weakest districts in the country. Glenville has been outside of the RivalsHigh 100 each of the last two seasons, and rumors that Ginn was leaving the program caused a lot of talent to flood into St. Edward and St. Ignatius. This is the first year that talent was restocked, and it could produce immediate results.

MORE: Nos. 75 - 71 - 80-76 - 85-81 - 90-86 - 95-91 - 100-96




 

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