August 1, 2013

Preseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 65-61

MORE: Nos. 70 - 66 - 75 - 71 - 80-76 - 85-81 - 90-86 - 95-91 - 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. 65 Mater Dei, California

Coach: Bruce Rollison
Last Season: 11-3, lost in PAC5 finals. Ranked No. 64 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: After he split snaps with Ryan McMahon last season, the team is fully under the control of Chase Forrest. The dual-threat quarterback has an offer from Eastern Washington, and he figures to add more and bigger ones as the season gets under way. He threw for more than 1,000 yards last season, completing 100 of 150 passes, and he rushed for nearly 200 yards as a balanced ground attack saw four players get more than 50 touches. His decision making was impressive as he threw 16 touchdowns versus just three interceptions. Mater Dei put itself back on the map after a few years of uninspired play.
The Good: Forrest had a surprisingly good year as Mater Dei advanced to the PAC5 finals, and this season a lot of weapons return. Class of 2015 targets Kyle Penniston and Ben Humphreys are both pushing 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, and leading rusher Justin Allen returns to boost the ground game. The offensive line should be another strength of the team because it has to replace only two starters.
The Bad: Of the 196 completed passes from last season, the Monarchs lost players who caught 155. Thomas Duarte hauled in 58 passes for 1,025 yards and 15 touchdowns, Jameson Field accounted for 41 receptions, and Nikolas Little pulled in 36. Mater Dei actually is more ground based than many programs in SoCal. It also ran 500 times, but the uptempo offense could be limited with all of the losses.
The Bottom Line: The Trinity League quickly separates the contenders from the pretenders before the playoffs finish the job. Contests with Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and Orange (Calif.) Lutheran can make or break the season. The good thing for this team is that all of those games happen in October and later, so it can use the first five weeks to find answers.

Top 100 countdown
No. 64 Gilman, Maryland

Coach: Biff Poggi
Last Season: 10-2, won conference championship. Ranked No. 61 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Junior prospect Kai Locksley will transition from wide receiver to quarterback. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound player is the son of Maryland assistant and former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley. Kai Locksley has offers from Florida State, Maryland and Michigan State. His recruiting is picking up, but his knowledge of the position is in the early stages. He described himself as a pass-first player who can run, and he likened his game to that of Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Good: The secondary should be a strength because class of 2015 safety Robert Branch is emerging as one of the better players in his region. He will team with four-star cornerback Troy Vincent. Vincent is a Penn State commit who has been a standout in each of his two seasons with Gilman after transferring into the program. The back of the defense will need to be at its best because Gilman has struggled to get to the quarterback in recent years.
The Bad: Gilman is offensively challenged. It has had Division I quarterbacks paired with fellow major prospects at running back and wide receiver, and the offense has stalled. Last season, it was held under 20 points in each of its first three games -- all against nationally relevant teams -- and lost two of the three. If that doesn't improve, it could meet a similar fate.
The Bottom Line: Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller and Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco have been replaced on the schedule by Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee and Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, which may be a step up in competition. The team opens with Good Counsel in this three-game ringer, and an 0-3 start is just as likely as a 3-0 run. There is a lot to be learned about Gilman, and that will happen before the middle of September.

Top 100 countdown
No. 63 Colquitt County, Georgia

Coach: Rush Propst
Last Season: 10-4, lost in Class AAAAAA semifinals. Ranked No. 71 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Rising junior athlete Javonta Woods will have to pick up the bulk of the offensive load because quarterback Cole Segraves, running back Joey Boatright and receiver Bobby Hill are gone. Woods had 15 carries last season and was third on the team with 35 catches. His role likely will increase alongside Daniel Mobley and Maleek Lewis as the team turns the page from a talented core.
The Good: To the surprise of many, the offense at Colquitt County was balanced under Propst. The team threw 405 times and ran 406 in the uptempo attack. That balance can be met again this year with a new crop of players. The players running it do not enter the year highly recruited, and that may actually play into their hands because the respect card can be powerful.
The Bad: This is a maddening team because it has shown over the last four seasons that it will lose games it has no reason to lose and win games that seem unwinnable. To outsiders, it appears that a lack of focus is always a problem and that coaching could be an issue. The team has lost to the eventual state champion in Georgia the last four years, and some think this could be the group that gets over the hump.
The Bottom Line: Colquitt is in the most difficult region in the state -- maybe in the country. It will play Valdosta (Ga.) High, Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes and Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County. The schedule at the front end is no easier with Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, Hoover (Ala.) High and Lovejoy (Ga.) High in the first three weeks. The program bounced in and out of the RIvalsHigh 100 three times last season, and that could be the fate of this group as well.

Top 100 countdown
No. 62 Coppell, Texas

Coach: Joey McBride
Last Season: 11-1, lost in second round of 5A-Division I playoffs. Ranked No. 52 in RivalsHigh 100
Key Player: Defensive end Solomon Thomas is one of the top players at his position in the nation, and he may be the most talented prospect in North Texas. The 6-foot-3, 263-pound player was a menace last season, and he figures to be again this year. The defensive line is a strength of the program, and that is all because of what Thomas brings to the field.
The Good: The defense was strong all season -- except for the blowout loss to DeSoto (Texas) High in the playoffs -- and that should be the focal point of the team this season. Behind Thomas are two talented linebackers in 6-foot-3, 230-pound John Herubin and 6-foot-1, 205-pound Collins Okotcha. They are joined by class of 2015 prospect Bo Anderson, who has an offer from Texas State as a 6-foot-2, 215-pound player.
The Bad: New quarterback Skyler Bonneau will be asked to keep the ship going in the right direction, and that could prove tougher than expected. The team returns running backs Gavin McDaniel and Charles West to lighten the load and the offensive line brings back key pieces in Bill Weber and Kevin Gary, but the skill players are not exciting and that could slow the unit.
The Bottom Line: Coppell will win its district again and likely do so without much effort. Its measuring stick games will be against Longview (Texas) High and Allen (Texas) High. Coppell knocked off Allen last season and prevented the Eagles from claiming a national title, and that same set of stakes could be on the line in late September. The playoffs in Texas are no picnic, and Coppell is locked in to the difficult Division I bracket.

Top 100 countdown
No. 61 Brandon, Mississippi

Coach: Brad Peterson
Last Season: 14-3, lost in Class 6A state finals
Key Player: Junior quarterback Gardner Minshew returns as a second-year starter and has showed improvement over the summer. He threw 388 times last season and completed 216 passes for just over 3,000 yards. He tossed 27 touchdowns. He has an early offer from Akron, and he looked poised in the recently completed Hoover (Ala.) National Select 7-on-7 Championships.
The Good: Combining with an explosive offense, the Bulldogs can rely on two bookend defensive ends to put pressure on the competition. Three-star Kyle Strickland and Michael Brooks can make life hard for opposing offensive lines. Strickland is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds with good speed and long arms, while Brooks is 6-foot-3 with a 220-pound frame that can add good weight. Both could put up big numbers.
The Bad: The receiving group that surrounds Minshew is still developing. The team lost nearly all of its receptions from last year. Its leading returner is Austin Jasper with 17 catches. The team has competed in more 7-on-7 camps this year to develop flow, but if there is a slow start to be had it will be with this group.
The Bottom Line: Mississippi was down last season, when no teams were represented in the RivalsHigh 100, but this year there are three in the preseason. It is a quarterback-led group with Ross Trail at Olive Branch, Rip Kirk at South Panola and Minshew at Brandon. Which of those three has the best year likely will determine who hoists the state championship trophy in December. An early contest against Madison (Miss.) Central will be a gauge to see where this team is.




 

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