RivalsHigh.com has begun its 2010 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.
We started at No. 100 on July 26 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 Monday, Aug. 9 - two weeks from the start of the season.
After that, we will wait until Sept. 1 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.
COACH: Chris Miller LAST SEASON: 13-2 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 36 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Rebels replace a ton of talented players. Byrnes had eight players sign with Division I teams last season. This year, the team does not have one player with a major offer. Byrnes returns just four on offense and three on defense, so filling many voids will be a true test for the team.
STAR OF THE SHOW: While the team has to replace most every major position, the spotlight will fairly (or unfairly) be pointed at quarterback Zach Blair. Being at the helm of one of the most recognizable high school football teams comes with a lot of pressure. Blair, at 6-foot-3, has all the physical tools to lead the team, but doing it in 7-on-7 tournaments is not the same as lining up in real game situations.
MOUTH OF THE SOUTH: One of the returning seniors is linebacker Andre Brewton. While his play on the field will certainly be important, he is the unquestioned vocal leader of the defense. Circling the defense and bringing the energy is what he does.
STRENGTH: According to coach Chris Miller, the strength of the team is unquestionable - the offensive line. "We bring four guys back up front," he said. "Those guys do not get any attention or any credit for anything but they are going to be the strength of our team." Hard to argue with that.
QUOTABLE: "People are always writing us off," Miller said. "When Coach (Bobby) Bentley left, we were done. When we lost some of our big players, we were done. Now without Chas (Dodd) and Marcus (Lattimore) and those guys, we are done. It is the nature of the beast. But if you want to knock us off, you are going to have to go out and do it. We aren't just going to ride of into the sunset and be happy with what happened. The kids here now want to leave their legacy."
Top 100 countdown
No. 24 Bishop McDevitt, Pa.
COACH: Jeff Weachter LAST SEASON: 12-1 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 7 in Pennsylvania
KEEP AN EYE ON: The first game of the season. McDevitt gets first crack at No. 99 Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway (who will play without standout Dondi Kirby) and it is an early measuring-stick game for both teams. The Crusaders bring back six on offense and five on defense, so the depth, top end talent and home field are all on their side. A loss there would be damning for the central part of the state, which is trying to establish itself as a serious player in Pennsylvania.
PARADE OF PLAYERS: In each of the 13 years that Jeff Weachter has coached at McDevitt, there has been a Division I running back on the field. That parade will continue with Jameel Poteat, who recently committed to Pittsburgh. Poteat has been a starter at McDevitt since his sophomore year and has racked up 1,600 yards each year. He has caught more than 50 passes combined in his first two years and that figures to pick up this year.
TRIMMING DOWN: One of the biggest - and maybe one of the best - players on the team is its left guard Tony Harris. Harris tipped the scales at 378 pounds on his Memorial Day trip to Temple, but is presently down to 334 pounds. According to Weachter, the goal is to have him down to 325 by the time the season starts, a playing weight where the coach thinks he will start seeing some Division I offers.
REPLACING THE WIDEOUTS: The Crusaders lost their top four pass catchers from last year, which leaves Poteat as the No. 1 catcher coming back. The team will need to fill that void and will look to 5-foot-11 Brian Lemelle to lead the charge.
YOUTH BEING SERVED: With the attention being paid to Poteat, the best player on the field for Bishop McDevitt could very well be Class of 2012 defensive end Noah Spence. Spence already has offers from everywhere in the country and has the body of a college football player as just a rising junior. Weachter, who currently has four previous players in the NFL, said that Spence will be better than all of them.
QUOTABLE: "I think there are still a lot of teams (in Western Pennsylvania) trying to play smash-mouth football," Weachter said. "Aside from [Bridgeville (Pa.)] Chartiers Valley and Gateway, it is rare to see a team spread it out. Those teams, that like it low scoring and physical, can get into trouble when the scores get higher."
Top 100 countdown
No. 23 Butler, North Carolina
COACH: Mike Newsome LAST SEASON: 15-0, North Carolina Class 4A State Champs FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 12 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the situation with Christian LeMay plays out. LeMay faces a possible 30-day out-of-school suspension for violating a school district code of conduct rule. At press time, the appeal process was still ongoing and a new development - the suspension of Butler's principal - may have extended the situation. Practice has started in North Carolina and school starts on Aug. 24. A resolution may not be handed down anytime soon. LeMay could miss as little as one game, as many as seven, or he could decide to transfer out of the school and play at a private school to avoid any missed time. Riley Ferguson, just a sophomore, would fill in but would have plenty of weapons at his disposal.
PROTECT ME: Butler brings back four starters (counting LeMay) on offense and five on defense. The question becomes: Who protects the skill players on offense? The team lost all six of its offensive linemen from last year - they use the tight end as an extra tackle - and that could be hard to replace, especially in front of a new quarterback.
WHO COULD RISE UP? The linebacking core at Butler has been gutted as well and that will need to be filled and fixed in a hurry. One player that is expected to shine is Peter Kalambayi. Kalambayi is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound sophomore that is already getting Division I interest. He has run a 4.49 40 and was the anchor on the 4x100m track team as a freshman.
QUOTABLE: "We won't know anything until the final word comes down on the situation," coach Mike Newsome said of the possible LeMay suspension. "It hurts anytime you lose a three-year starter at any position. In high school football, it is something else altogether when it is your quarterback."
Top 100 countdown
No. 22 Shiloh Christian, Ark.
COACH: Josh Floyd LAST SEASON: 14-1, Arkansas Class 4A State Champs FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 43 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the season unfolds for the Saints. This is the season that people in Springdale have had circled since this crop of players was together in the sixth grade. The Saints have made no bones about it either - this is their shining moment. The team has upgraded its schedule and will throw caution to the wind, playing one of the best teams in Class 5A in Pine Bluff (Ark.) Watson Chapel, a top-rated national team in Euless (Texas) Trinity and another top 5A team in Greenwood (Ark.) High. Even Class 4A is not a given this year with Nashville (Ark.) High and Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy in the way.
STRENGTH: The strength of the team, according to coach Josh Floyd, is not the superstars that they have, but rather the depth along the offensive and defensive lines. The Saints return almost all of their starters at all positions - eight on both offense and defense - but the lines are of particular strength. "We have kids that are three- and four-year starters for us up front," he said. "People who think we aren't going to be prepared up front haven't watched this team."
STAR OF THE SHOW: The star of the show has been Kiehl Frazier for two years and this is no different. He has been the MVP of the past two state championship games and one of the highest-rated quarterbacks ever from the Natural State. Frazier has been showered with many compliments in his time as quarterback, but none as important as the fact that he is a proven winner. The team responds to that.
HEY, LOOK AT ME: Shiloh will be in the spotlight even more this year. Not only does the team have players committed to Auburn, Kansas, Kansas State and other top programs, it now has a documentary crew shadowing them. "It was weird," Floyd said. "I went out to my car today and there they were." While many think the crew could be a distraction, Floyd says that his team is focused on the season and won't notice the cameras.
QUOTABLE: "There isn't much arguing that 7A is the deepest class," Floyd said. "I mean they have the biggest schools and the most kids. And we don't really like getting into this, but that isn't the only factor. People can say what they want, but I am not sure that there was another team in Arkansas that would have beaten [Shreveport (La.)] Evangel Christian last year. (Shiloh beat Evangel last season, 37-36.) They were the best team we saw and, no matter the classification, they had five kids on defense going Division I. That doesn't happen in 7A - or 4A."
Top 100 countdown
No. 21 Camden County, Ga.
COACH: Jeff Herron LAST SEASON: 13-2, Georgia Class AAAAA State Champs FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 14 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: How Camden reloads. The team only brings back one starter on offense and two on defense. The Wildcats are generally a senior-led team so the turnover is nothing new. But combine the team's non-conference schedule with the high level of play in Class AAAAA, and it's a legitimate concern. The team started off 1-2 last year and was able to rebound to win a state title. The slow start could happen again this year.
STRENGTH: It is a tough one to point out, but coach Jeff Herron said without hesitation that the kicking game was going to be a main strength. Yikes. The reality is that Camden is a defense-first team and could be in some low-scoring games. A kicker that can convert attempts, as well as pin teams back on kickoffs and punts, could be invaluable to the rebuilding effort. That's especially true early in the season as Camden goes against Miami (Fla.) Central and Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas.
WHO STEPS UP? There are not many household names at Camden County, and that is nearly the norm, but there are two players who Herron said he expects to step up and shine. Jalen Simmons and Kenny Hutchinson are the main focal points on offense, with Simmons at wideout and Hutchinson running the ball. Herron said that Hutchinson has emerged from a group of players that were competing for the job.
GETTING GOOD ... QUICKLY: The secondary is going to be all juniors this year and that will present some growing pains, especially early. Miami Central and St. Thomas Aquinas are both teams who can air it out, so the time to get better may be now.
QUOTABLE: "Sometimes reality and expectations don't meet," Herron said. "We lost a lot of kids, but that doesn't mean we don't have some talented ones ready to go. But if you saw us practice today, you may not have us ranked so highly."