RivalsHigh.com has begun its 2011 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 100 down to No. 1.
We started at No. 100 on July 25 and are now down to our final three days counting down from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Wednesday morning on Rivals Radio - two weeks from the start of the season.
After that, we will wait until Sept. 5 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: Tony Sanchez LAST SEASON: 13-2, Nevada Class 4A State Champs
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 27 in RivalsHigh 100
Perception can be reality.
For Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, the 2011 season is an opportunity to make a new reality.
Perception says Bishop Gorman is the best team in a bad state, a label it earned last fall when it lost its two out-of-state tests - Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton and Concord (Calif.) De La Salle - before rolling to a Nevada state title. Because of it, Bishop Gorman enters the 2011 season with a lot to prove.
The reality is the team wants more; starting at No. 7 in the RivalsHigh 100 gives it that chance.
"There is a sense of urgency," Scott Cooley, a defensive coach at the school, said. "The team doesn't talk about anything beyond the [Scottsdale (Ariz.)] Chaparral (opener), but this group knows we have the talent, we have the ability, and they know they have the expectations. We are all working hard to make this a good season.
"Last year, we didn't finish those games. Bottom line. We didn't finish and this year that is what we plan on doing."
The Gaels, under head coach Tony Sanchez, have improved their schedule each year.
This season, the Gaels will open on the road against No.30-ranked Chaparral on Aug. 20, then host Top 10-team Seffner (Fla.) Armwood on ESPN six days later. They will take on one of the best in Southern California, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, in late September. Wins in all three would bring a lot of attention.
"We are going for it this year," Sanchez said. "We have a very good team and we got some teams that are expected to compete for their state titles. We want to be in the discussion for a national title."
Sanchez is right on both counts: he has a very talented team; his opponents are expected to compete for state titles. He is also on track that it would be hard to keep an undefeated team with wins over multiple state champions from the No. 1 spot in the RivalsHigh 100.
"Our goals are to be undefeated and win a state title," he said. "If that happens, we think we will have to be in the discussion."
That opportunity is something that prestigious Bishop Gorman alumni could not have imagined.
Lorenzo Fertitta, co-owner of the UFC and a former Gaels football player, said that what Sanchez has been able to accomplish is more than he imagined.
"Coach Sanchez has taken Bishop Gorman to another level," he said. "It is gaining the reputation like De La Salle and Don Bosco. There is always going to be a couple blue-chip players, and literally every day there are Division I coaches at the school. Every kid in Las Vegas wants to go there and the staff he has put together is second to none."
That includes coaches such as Cooley, who followed Sanchez from his previous stop at San Ramon (Calif.) California.
"I was with him for two years at California and both years here," Cooley said. "He is a man of good character; it is fun to be around him and coaching. But as much fun as it is, we all know we have to work.
"It is easy to get wrapped up with being the flavor of the week, to have Rivals here on campus, to be on television, but now we have to prove we are worth the attention."
Sanchez is ready to make sure the kids are.
"We have a lot of work to do," he said. "Chaparral is a very talented team and they present some challenges. And Armwood is scary up front and that running back they have has to be accounted for at all times. This schedule will test the kids' ability on the field and our ability as coaches."
The secondary, meanwhile, could feature as many as four Division I athletes, highlighted by three-star Marc Philippi.
Even with the talent on the field, Cooley knows that the more talented team doesn't always win.
"You can learn from losses," he said. "We learned we needed to be stronger. We showed we were tough mentally and physically, but we need to be more prepared to grind with some of those teams.
"If we want to keep up with the Jones' we need to work like them. Work harder, even. If they work on Saturday we will too, and Saturday night, too. We have to do that to get where Coach wants us to go."