RivalsHigh.com today begins its 2010 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. 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: Eric Moore LAST SEASON: 10-4 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 6 in Indiana
KEEP AN EYE ON: How well seven returning offensive starters run the ball in coach Eric Moore's vaunted Wing-T offense. On paper, the Trojans are all but guaranteed a successful season. But how much noise they make at the state level could depend on the performance of those returners. The Trojans averaged nearly 300 yards on the ground last year and that will most likely continue.
STRENGTH: Center Grove lost a great deal to graduation since last go round but does return a strong senior class of 13 starters, and boasts a junior class that could produce as many as 40 Trojans in uniform. More depth comes in from a freshman group that has never lost a game for the red and white.
STAR OF THE SHOW: Offensively, much is expected of seniors Jimmy Daggett and Nolan Weidman. As juniors, Daggett ran for 773 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Weidman logged 749 yards and 12 TDs. Also of note is senior TE Andrew Gudeman, who returns with his gaudy 17 yards-per-catch numbers. Defensive stars look to come from the secondary, as seniors Zach Mattox, Nick Stoner and Tyler Sykes are proven commodities in coverage. For a team that likes to control the clock, Center Grove also gives up a lot of points on defense, which could be a problem last in the season.
QUOTABLE: "Coach Eric Moore has turned Center Grove football into an annual championship contender. His 11-year clip at the helm of the Trojans has produced a 100-36 record in arguably the state's most competitive conference," Leigh Evans, publisher of HickoryHusker said. "Center Grove's state title and multiple sectional, regional and semistate titles during his tenure gain even more significance when contrasted with the fact that the school's only playoff success prior to this was a sectional and regional title in1987."
Top 100 countdown
No. 94 Maine South, Illinois
COACH: David Inserra LAST SEASON: 14-0, Illinois Class 8A State Champs FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 31 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: How Maine South replaces its quarterback, which will determine the team's success. The past six signal callers have gone on to play at least Division II football and now the team will be breaking in a young QB. The 6-foot sophomore, Matt Alviti, appears to have earned the spot over junior Jimmy Frankos.
STRENGTH: The team has dual points of strength on offense. The Hawks return two of its best receivers, Luke Mottley and Scott Derrick, to help guide the offense. Mottley led the team with 37 receptions last season and looks to build on that this year. Also on the offensive side of the ball, Maine South brings back 6-foot-7 right tackle Victor Nelson and 6-foot-2 right guard Frank Colletti. The pair started all 14 games next to each other last year.
STAR OF THE SHOW: According to coach David Inserra, Marcus Nelli is the team leader and "resident tough guy." From seeing Nelli at the recent National Select 7-on-7 Championships, he is the emotional on-field leader of the defense and plays with a Brian Urlacher anger.
QUOTABLE: "Teams always say that we just reload," Inserra said. "We lost so much talent from last year, we will put that to the test."
Top 100 countdown
No. 93 Southmoore, Oklahoma
COACH: Chris Jensen LAST SEASON: 11-2 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 5 in Oklahoma
KEEP AN EYE ON: The no-huddle defense that the Sabercats use. Yes, no-huddle defense. The philosophy of the coaching staff is that if they can use a no-huddle offense, then they just need to be a no-huddle team. This is just the third year of Southmoore's existence, so the quick rise to nationally-ranked level is very impressive. Check in to see if the team can handle the lofty expectations.
STRENGTH: An explosive offense that can move the ball through the air or on the ground is one of the major advantages that Southmoore has. Its running back, Andrew Long, was second in the state in rushing last year as a sophomore. He returns along with two offensive linemen to protect Kendal Thompson.
STAR OF THE SHOW: The star of most teams is the quarterback. For the Southmoore Sabercats, it doesn't hurt when your quarterback is one of the best in the country and has already committed to playing football for the Oklahoma Sooners. Kendal Thompson, the No. 12 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation, leads the team.
QUOTABLE: "Kendal makes us go," coach Chris Jensen said. "He is our best quarterback, defensive back, and wide receiver on the team. He is pretty much the most competitive and gifted athlete I have seen in some time. I haven't tried him on the offensive line, but I bet he would be good there too."
Top 100 countdown
No. 92 Hutchinson, Kansas
COACH: Randy Dreiling LAST SEASON: 13-0, Kansas Class 5A State Champs FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 18 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: The first two weeks of the season, as Hutchinson will take on Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst and Derby (Kan.) High. How the team handles those first two games will tell a lot about the overall season the Salt Hawks will have. The class of Kansas will be replacing 31 seniors and only returns one starter on offense and just four on defense. There is no time to knock the rust off or grow into the season.
STRENGTH: The Salt Hawks have won six consecutive state titles and everyone in the state knows it. That mystique has certainly won this team some games before a snap was even played. While Hutchinson has had a lot of great high school football players, the tradition of winning feeds into people on the team as well as its opponents.
STAR OF THE SHOW: While there are a lot of responsibilities that will have to be replaced, one of the returning starters on defense will have to rally the troops. Ben Heeney comes back at safety for Hutchinson and will lead the way. According to coach Randy Dreiling, Heeney embodies what it takes to win in high school football, saying his safety gives it all he has on every play and if the rest of the team can follow his lead, they will be successful as well.
QUOTABLE: "It is not a matter of motivation for this team," Dreiling said. "The kids know what is expected of them here. It is tough to expect to get better each season, especially after some of the teams we have had here, but we welcome the challenge. Nobody is sitting around here thinking about last year. That is for sure."
Top 100 countdown
No. 91 Millard South, Nebraska
COACH: Andy Means LAST SEASON: 13-0, Class 6A State Champions FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 93 in the RivalsHigh 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: What the team decides to do with its quarterback situation, which the Patriots' success could rely on. Entering the season, the team may end up rotating between Blake Headley and Quentin Urban.
STRENGTH: The team scored an all-time Nebraska state record in 2009, averaging 48 points per game. While repeating that production will be nearly impossible, the team will still rely on offense to carry it this season.
STAR OF THE SHOW: This year, the man keying the attack will be Trey Sacks. Sacks was the team's second-leading rusher last season but had a bad toe that limited his action. Now, back at full strength, he figures to see the bulk of the carries. The team runs a spread, zone-read style of offense that likes to run 60 percent of the time.
QUOTABLE: "People think that our population base doesn't produce much talent," head coach Andy Means said. "And we don't have a lot of four- and five-star players, but we have a lot of very good football players. People in this state love football and we play a very good brand of football."