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July 27, 2012

Preseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 60-56

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Dallas Jackson is the High School Football analyst for Rivals.com. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Rivals.com began its 2012 countdown Monday, 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. Then, we'll do a daily countdown from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Wednesday, Aug. 8 -- just 10 days from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Aug. 27 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

The team rankings were compiled by high school sports senior analyst Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.

View the complete rankings timeline if you missed anything | Final 2011 Expanded Rankings

Top 100 countdown
No. 60 St. Joseph Regional, N.J.

Coach: Tony Karcich
Last Season: 10-2, Won Non-Public Group 3 title. Ranked No. 3 in New Jersey.
Fast fact: Tony Karcich has coached at powerhouse programs Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph Regional during his time in New Jersey. He is one of only six coaches in state history to have amassed 300 career wins.
Key Player: Quarterback Spencer Aukamp. As a sophomore Aukamp led the team to another title but now that he is a junior, and much of the 2011 team are seniors, more will be expected of him. St. Joseph does not pass the ball very frequently -- it favored the run by a near four-to-one ratio in 2011 -- but the team has the weapons on the outside to work that closer to three-to-one this year. If Aukamp can continue to complete near 65-percent of his passes and improve on his decision making it will be a successful campaign.
The Good: Youthful experience. Last season so much of the Green Knight team were underclassmen and this season most everyone will be entering the senior season -- save a few second year junior starters. The team was clearly the third best team in New Jersey last season but that translated into a 30-17 loss to No. 2 Bergen Catholic and a 41-0 setback to Don Bosco. While Bergen Catholic was also young and figures to be better this year, Don Bosco graduated a lot of talent and has theoretically moved back towards those other two. A better showing in those two games should be expected and even in losses the team can maintain its ranking.
The Bad: Taking the next step. The Green Knights will likely struggle because of their offensive philosophy. The team likes to control the clock and run a power offense. While that will work against most every other team in the state, getting through a Don Bosco defensive front with that play calling is probably not going to happen; the same can be said for games against Bergen Catholic. The losses in 2011 could be blamed on youth, but that won't fly in 2012. This is an experienced team and unless there is more trust put into the passing game, the gap won't be closing.
The bottom line: St. Joseph looked outclassed in its losses in 2011 and needs to improve locally to be anything more than a regional power. Taking a step onto the national level implies that the team is going to be able to stay on the field with other national level teams and St. Joseph was not in that class last year. The final score against Bergen Catholic makes it look like a simple two-score game but at no point was Bergen in danger of losing the game and the shutout loss against Don Bosco was as ugly as the score indicates. With Aukamp and receiver Ricky Jeune there is a chance the team opens the playbook a little bit more. 

Top 100 countdown
No. 59 Colquitt County, Georgia

Coach: Rush Propst
Last Season: 11-3, lost in second round of Georgia playoffs. Ranked No. 40 nationally.
Fast Fact: Head coach Rush Propst was one of the pioneers of the spread offense during his time at Hoover (Ala.) High. Last year, Colquitt County fell off its fast-paced attack and averaged just 65 plays per game. This year the goal is to move back towards 85 plays per game.
Key Player: Quarterback Cole Segraves. Segraves is a prototypical quarterback for a Propst offense, standing 6-feet-4 and over 200 pounds. He can throw and run, making projections for a 2,000 yard passing and 1,000 yard rushing season seem like a very realistic goal. The three-star quarterback has multiple offers but will not be the best quarterback in his own Region as Bryce Ramsey of Camden County will be coming into Region 1. The team will go as far as Segraves leads it.
The Good: The offense. A lot of the credit for the turnaround belongs to Propst but even he will say that you need to have players to make any system work. With Segraves at the helm and Bobby Hill out wide the passing attack will be solid. The running back situation will be by committee Tre Cooper and Tim Sanders figuring into the mix. If the team gets up to its goal of 85 plays per game it will gas some teams along the way.
The Bad: The defense. Outscoring opponents in the regular season has worked to the benefit of the Packers but it has not translated into December success. The team improved in 2011, allowing fewer than 15 points per game on the season but it was a different story come playoff time. The Packers allowed over 30 points in each of their final two games of the season. Still, those figures are a dramatic improvement over the 32 points per game the team allowed for the duration of the 2010 season. With defensive coordinator Travis Pearson continuing to implement an aggressive system those numbers could and should continue to drop.
The bottom line: Colquitt needs to play consistently this season and improve its defense to make a run. Realignment in Georgia put Colquitt in one of the hardest Regions in the nation along with Lowndes, Valdosta and Camden County. The team has not had fewer than three losses in any of Propst's first four seasons at Colquitt and some of them of have been head-scratchers. From Week 1 until its final play focus will be a must to meet the expectations on this team.

Top 100 countdown
No. 58 Northside, Georgia
Coach: Kevin Kinsler
Last Season: 13-1, Georgia Class AAAA semifinalist. Ranked No. 35 nationally.
Fast Fact: Northside was able to escape a lot of rezoning damage that befell rival Warner Robins High when Veterans High was opened on the southern side of town. There are now four high schools serving the area. Northside was the least affected and it will show on the football field in the near future.
Key Player: Wide receiver Keshun Hill. The team has to replace quarterback Jack Montgomery, running back Marte Polk, and receiver A'donis Hampton and a large portion of the playmaking duties will fall onto Hill. At 6-feet-1 and nearing 200 pounds, Hill has the frame to be physical as well as the speed to get down the field. While the team is usually defensively led, it will need a go-to player on offense and that is Hill.
The Good: The defense. There have not always been name brand players on the defensive side of the ball but Northside has always had one of the best units in the state. Over the last eight seasons, the Eagles have allowed opponents to average more than 10 points per game just once (2009) and even then the team still allowed fewer than 14 points per game. In those same eight years, the Eagles have only allowed more than 110 total points three times.
The Bad: Replacing offense. While the defense has been very good, the offense has been pretty average. Last year was the first time in five year that the team has scored more than 400 points on the season. While that is a positive sign, it could be hard to replicate the success as the team is losing its three biggest offensive weapons. Running back Curtis Martin could lighten the load a little this season but expecting the team to have the same potency as it did last year may be a mistake.
The bottom line: This team may be the anti-Colquit County. Northside was slid up to Class AAAAA in the new AAAAAA format, which will keep it away from some of the top teams in the state through the regular season and playoffs. An early game with Flowery Branch could test both sides of the ball but from there it should be smooth sailing until the playoffs.

Top 100 countdown
No. 57 Skyline, Washington

Coach: Matt Taylor
Last Season: 11-3, Won Washington Class 4A title. Ranked No. 94 nationally.
Fast Fact: The Spartans have had just two starting quarterbacks over the last six football seasons: Jake Heaps and Max Browne. The team has also been hanging state title banners, winning in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011.
Key Player: Quarterback Max Browne. Browne has been under the microscope since his first snap replacing Heaps as a sophomore but he has handled the pressure in stride and has elevated his game to a place even higher than what Heaps was able to accomplish. The nation's top pocket passer has participated in so many summer camp and 7-on-7 events that getting pads and a helmet back on will likely be a welcomed change for him.
The Good: Consistency. Having the same system and coaching staff in place for an extended period of time will help make a program better; then having the same quarterback running that system since he was 10 years-old and now for three years as a starting quarterback is a definite recipe for success. The Skyline offense has been among the best in Washington for nearing a decade and that figures to stay the course this year as the dominance of the state is expected to continue.
The Bad: The schedule. While the team was able to replace a showdown against Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee with Idaho's best, Couer d'Alene, and there is a game against local rivals Bothell and one of the better Utah teams in Cottonwood there is not much left on the list of challenges until the playoffs start. For evaluating most any team on a national level the goal is three to five games of consequence and there may not be that many on here. The strength of schedule could cost the team at the end as it is expected to run the season undefeated.
The bottom line: Skyline is a very strong team and will win the state title. The question is finding out where that will place the team nationally. It would have been easier to gauge Skyline's place had the game with Manatee not fallen through, but winning Washington and beating top teams in Idaho and Utah will leave many skeptical of what the team could have actually accomplished. It is too bad there is not a game with Bellevue on the schedule as well. A Top 50 finish can be anticipated.

Top 100 countdown
No. 56 La Porte, Texas

Coach: Jeff Lareau
Last Season: 12-2, Class 5A-DII quarterfinalist. Ranked No. 89 nationally.
Fast Fact: Before La Porte's stunning 9-7 victory over Katy in 2011, the two programs had met twice previously the playoffs with Katy winning both by a combined score of 79-3.
Key Player: Running backs Keith Whitely and Jonathan Lewis. Usually this spot is reserved for the best player on the team but these two guys need to step up to take the pressure off the defense and Class of 2014 linebacker Hoza Scott. Lewis rushed for nearly 600 yards last year while Whitely piled up almost 1,500. If each can step up their production a little and put the ball into the endzone a few more times it will go a long way for this team.
The Good: Returning starters and playmakers. The team is returning 17 starters and 27 lettermen from a 2011 team where many of the playmakers were in the sophomore class. The offense will look very similar, focusing on ball control, while relying on its defense to suffocate opponents, force mistakes and create opportunities. With Scott, the defense could be among the best in the state.
The Bad: Expectations. The 2011 season was one of the best in the history of the program and following that up could be tough. With the offensive line bringing back five players that saw significant, the defense being loaded and a signature win under its belt, confidence should be high but it could be rocked with a tough loss.
The bottom line: La Porte could be under ranked at No. 56. There is a lot of talent on the field for this team and it could prove to be the best team in the Greater Houston Area by season's end. If things play out a little different in some districts around the state it would not be a shock to see a Texas 5A-DII finals showdown between La Porte and Southlake Carroll. Which would be a must see football game.

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