Rivals.com began its 2012 countdown Monday, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.
We started 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.
Coach: Dean Herrington
Last Season: 8-3. Unranked in Final California Top 30.
Fast Fact: In the seven seasons under Coach Herrington, Alemany has won its five league championships and advanced to the 2009 CIF championship game. It was the first appearance in that game for the 53-year history of the school.
Key Player: Wide receiver Steven Mitchell. The USC commit is the top-ranked player on the team and the one that will draw the most attention from defenses. He will need to step up his play and help quarterback Devon Dunn make plays. Mitchell has had a solid summer participating in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge as well as The Opening. He has drawn many positive reviews for his burst and route running.
The Good: The team is experienced. Many of the top players on the team were the top players last year. Only one player went on to the next level, whereas four might make the jump after this season. The team is also battle tested as it played in two, one-point losses and three one-score victories. Its season was ended in a one-score playoff loss as well. The projection is that this team is ready to take the next step.
The Bad: What will the lines look like? While the playmakers may be there -- and based on the summer circuit they seem to be in sync -- there will still need to be protection for the pass and holes to run through. The team graduated three off both the offensive and defensive lines and that could put the pressure on if those holes are not plugged.
The bottom line: There are still at least five games on the schedule that could trip up Alemany if it isn't an improved team. A road test with Corona (Calif.) Centennial followed by three straight at home against Norco (Calif.) High, Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, and La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat before Encino (Calif.) Crespi on the road is a demanding stretch. All of that is before the playoffs, where the team was bounced in the first round last year.
Top 100 countdown
No. 89 Ouachita, Louisiana
Coach: John Carr
Last Season: 9-3, Eliminated in Class 5A second round. Ranked No. 11 in Louisiana.
Fast Fact: The city of Monroe was a title town in Louisiana for the 2011 football season as West Monroe won Class 5A, Neville won Class 4A, and Ouachita Christian claimed the Class A title. The Ouachita team has won one state title in its history, 1989, and played for two others in 1994 and 1941.
Key Player: Offensive lineman Cameron Robinson. The Class of 2014 prospect checks in a 6-feet-6 and 320 pounds and is clearly the player that should be sent off the bus first. Already with offers from most every SEC school, he has impressed at every camp he has been to and has a nastiness about him that is infectious to the rest of the players on the line. If he can get the group of offensive linemen to the next level, this team could get over the hump in Class 5A.
The Good: The offense. With prospects Cameron Robinson and Reggie Smith holding down the offensive line, Taijuan Thomas rushing out of the backfield and receiver Cameron Sims, the Ouachita offense will put up some points. The key question for the Lion's success though will be replacing quarterback Quinton Wheeler. No quarterback returns from the 2011 team, but with a strong offensive line and standouts at all the skill positions just about anyone coach John Carr throws into the mix should adjust without issue relatively quickly. The Bad: History is not on its side. As much separation as can be made from past results and current expectations, it is hard to ignore that Ouachita Parish has only played one game in December in the past decade and has routinely struggled to make it to a week of practice before Thanksgiving. Those are the times of the year you expect to see nationally relevant teams, and so getting the benefit of the doubt over more historically successful programs, namely West Monroe (La.) High, could be a big backfire.
The bottom line: This is a risky ranking and we are well aware of it. There is a clump of five teams in Louisiana 5A who could argue for this spot in the rankings and so the magnifying glass will be on the Bayou. The hope is that with all that is returning for this team, it will be able to overcome the narrow defeats from last year. Its three losses were to the two state title winners, by a combined eight points, and in the playoffs to Class 5A runner-up Lafayette (La.) Carencro, by four.
Top 100 countdown
No. 88 Cocoa, Florida
Coach: John Wilkinson
Last Season: 8-5, Class 4A semifinalist. Ranked No. 25 in Florida.
Fast Fact: Cocoa has been one of the most aggressive schools in Florida for out-of-state games. In 2010 the team was 3-0, defeating Olive Branch (Miss.) High, Jefferson Hills (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson, and Abilene (Texas) High. In 2011, it went the other direction, going 0-3 and losing to Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain, Dallas (Texas) Skyline, and West Monroe (La.) High. This year it will play Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph's and Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic.
Key Player: Four-star running back Tarean Folston. Unless there is a major change in philosophy at Cocoa -- which there won't be -- Folston will be the featured player on offense. The No. 195 player in the Rivals 250 has offers from coast to coast and it will be up to him to churn out yards in the offense. The pass game for Cocoa is not very well developed and keeping the ball in Folston's hands will likely be the call again.
The Good: The defense. As in past years, the defense will not be dotted with stars but rather with players who understand their roles. The team will run an aggressive 3-3-5 format that keeps opposition off-balance. It is the system that allows Cocoa to use the plethora of not prototypically sized athletes to the best of their ability and maintain its level of play that many schools of similar sizes cannot uphold.
The Bad: The passing game. The team improved as the year went on last season, but going from dreadful to not terrible is marginal. There is optimism that it could be better entering this season, but recent history says that it will not be case. Cocoa has not been much for the forward pass outside of bubble screens and slip screens, and so stretching the defense will likely not be part of the situation.
The bottom line: Cocoa understands what it takes to stay nationally relevant. The team is in a fairly weak district and beating those teams regularly is not going to make the players or the program better. So stepping up the competition is the best way to be ready for a playoff path that will always include some combination of Madison County, Bolles, or Booker T. Washington, among others, in the state. The team will go as far as the defense and running game carries it -- or until the passing game fails it.
Top 100 countdown
No. 87 Carmel, Indiana
Coach: Kevin Wright
Last Season: 14-1, Won Indiana Class 5A State Title. Ranked No. 22 nationally.
Fast Fact: Carmel head coach Kevin Wright led the program's rival, Indianapolis Warren Central, to three straight state titles from 2003-05 before being hired. Carmel defeated Warren Central in the playoffs last season en route to the title in Wright's second season with the school.
Key Player: Wide receiver Austin Roberts. The Class of 2014 is a standout on the field and will be among the best players in his class. The 6-feet-2 prospect has early offers from major college programs in the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, and Pac 12. Roberts moved to Carmel in June as his father -- Alfredo Roberts -- is the tight ends coach for the Colts. Roberts could be moved to that position in some sets for the Greyhounds.
The Good: The defense. Before Wright took over at Carmel, the team played quality defense under former coach Mo Moriarity and that continued the past two seasons. The team has allowed just over 11 points per game in the 27 games under Wright and that figures to continue this year. The team lost a few standout players in Langston Newton, Shawn Heffern, and Jimmy Herman to graduation. John Kenny will be asked to step up and lead the defense from his linebacker position.
The Bad: Loss of talent. The three defensive leaders combined with Malcolm Brown and underrated running back Jalen Duncan will be tough to replace. There is a silver lining to that though and it is that the rest of Indiana is a little down in depth. So while it may be tough for Carmel, it is the same all over the state-- and Carmel is one of the largest schools in the state.
The bottom line: Indiana had a banner season in the national rankings in 2011 and this year will be tough to replicate. Carmel could be the best team in the highest class and that may not mean as much as it did last year. Greyhound fans have to be happy that the program has maintained its status as one of the top teams in the state and with Coach Wright continuing to push it forward, it should stay on that top line. What will change is where that top line falls nationally each year.
Top 100 countdown
No. 86 St. Ignatius, Ohio
Coach: Charles Kyle
Last Season: 13-2, Won Ohio Division I State Title. Ranked No. 37 nationally.
Fast Fact: In 29 seasons as the head coach at St. Ignatius, Coach Kyle has averaged 10 wins per season, winning 290 games and 11 state championships. He has also sent countless players to the collegiate level and many on to the professional ranks.
Key Player: Running back Tim McVey. McVey is currently without a major college offer, but as the focal point of a nationally relevant football program, one could likely be headed his way. The undersized McVey piled up more than 1,000 yards last year and will be asked to do the same this year, if not more.
The Good: The trenches. In Ohio, in November and December, a team is almost always only as good as its fronts and this group returns three solid players on both sides. Michael Cray and Steve Frank come back as guards with Jimmy Byrne also up front offensively. On the opposite side of the line, David Katusha, Matt Gawlik, and Kevin Kavalec will be back for another season.
The Bad: Depleted position groups. What is in the trenches, and McVey, is about all that is coming back for St. Ignatius and that is cause for concern. The team will be breaking in a new quarterback and an entire new receiving corps. Defensively, it will be all new linebackers and two new members of the secondary. While the team is always turning over players, it is usually not in complete position groups.
The bottom line: Ohio is one of the most unpredictable states in the country and St. Ignatius could be a case study in that. The team in 2011 was up and down throughout the regular season and made an incredible run in the playoffs. That is something it could be faced with again this year. Games against No. 98 Warren (Mich.) De La Salle as well as nationally ranked Mentor (Ohio) High and Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier could provide more of a test. All of that is making no mention of Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney, Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville, and Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward.