Rivals.com today begins its 2011 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 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: Rich Reichert
Last Season: 10-0, Won New York Class AAA State title. Ranked No. 100 nationally.
Fast fact: All three levels of the Friars football program finished undefeated in 2011 and the varsity team has not suffered a loss in two years. The program has only had multiple losses on the varsity level once in the last eight seasons -- 2008.
Key Player: Offensive linemen Jack Vivonetto and Joseph Tustin. While it is not a sexy position, Vivonetto and Tustin will have to set the tone for the group up front. Vivonetto will have to play with confidence and a physicality to keep the offense moving. Standing at 6-feet-3 and 265 pounds, Vivonetto projects as a guard but will likely be lining up at tackle for St. Anthony. Tustin checks in at 6-feet and more than 300 pounds. He can be a road grader for the offense to move behind.
The Good: Knowing how to win is a hard thing to learn and this team has it engrained into their system already. St. Anthony's returns the majority of its team from 2011 and brings up a solid group of rising seniors who can contribute. The team is on a 29-game winning streak and has claimed nearly every state title since Y2K was a worry. The run-heavy program will return Anthony Anderson to the backfield and if his 6 yards per carry hold up, that will indicate the line has been successful and the team likely has as well.
The Bad: Moving the ball through the air. This team was downright bad in the passing game in 2011 and it could be equally as inept this upcoming season. The team will be breaking in a new starting quarterback and despite throwing less than 10 passes per game, the team only completed, on average, four of those passes. More is expected and more is required of that group.
The bottom line: It is difficult to rank any New York team on a national list, but in theory this team should be better than last year's. St. Anthony's managed to stay inside the RivalsHigh 100 at the end of 2011 despite having several close calls inside the state. This year, the team opens with a home game against Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic and that might be the tale of the tape on this team for the year. A blowout and the Friars become a national footnote, but a win might be one of the biggest for the program, as well as the perception of the state.
Top 100 countdown
No. 99 Everett, Massachussetts
Coach: John Dibiaso, Jr.
Last Season: 13-0, Massachusetts Super Bowl Winner. Ranked No. 80 nationally.
Fast Fact: During the Super Bowl-winning season of 2011, Everett scored 537 total points and averaged about 41 per game. This Crimson Tide team was held under 35 points just once, when it scored 34 against Hyannis (Ma.) Barnstable. The team also never broke 49 points in a single game.
Key Player: Four-star offensive tackle John Montelus. The Notre Dame commit and No. 2-ranked offensive guard in the nation will have to anchor the offensive line. The team will be breaking in a new quarterback -- replacing Massachusetts record-setter John Diabiaso -- and while there are plenty of skill players to keep the offense clicking, the line will need to make sure there is time to pass the ball.
The Good: The offense. Skill position players Jalen Felix, Kenny Calaj, Jakarrie Washington and Gilly DeSouza will make up the most talented quartet in the region. There is a lot of potential in that group, with Washington being a legitimate 4.4 guy who could end up with an FBS-level college offer. The offensive line will average right around 300 pounds across the board, and with the system the team has in place, there are plenty of points to be scored.
The Bad: The defense. The Crimson Tide should be able to outscore anyone in New England with the talent coming back on offense, but filling the void of numerous starters, especially linebacker Vondell Langston, will be tough to do. We will find out whether or not the better teams in the state can exploit these holes when the Tide go up against Westwood (Ma.) Xaverian Brothers and Boston (Ma.) BC High in October.
The bottom line: Having a team from Massachusetts in the Preseason RivalsHigh 100 is a tough line to hold as the level of play is not what it is in other states. The team is more likely to play itself out of the rankings than play its way in, especially because replacing a star quarterback from 2011 may be tougher than anyone realizes. The opening game of the season against Leominster (Ma.) High could be more difficult than people may think and if Everett does not look like it belongs on the list, it could be quickly replaced.
Top 100 countdown
No. 98 De La Salle, Michigan
Coach: Paul Verska
Last Season:9-3, Eliminated in Division I Regional round. Ranked No. 11 in Michigan.
Fast Fact:Playing in one of Michigan's most difficult districts and divisions, Warren De La Salle has never had an undefeated season in school history. It has also never won a state title and has appeared in just two state finals -- 2006 and 2008.
Key Player: Quarterback Shane Morris. The 6-feet-3 signal caller, and Michgian commit, will be expected to carry the load. The team has been historically balanced on offense with about a 55-45 split in favor of the run. Morris is the No. 2-rated pro-style quarterback in the country and all eyes will be on him to get the team to its first state championship.
The Good: This may be redundant, but having Shane Morris gives this team a chance to compete and that is good. His yards, touchdown-versus-interception ratio and completion percentage have increased each of the last three seasons, and that trend should continue. Morris is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and can make any throw he needs. His play drew rave reviews at The Opening as the player with the best arm at the event. If he can continue to elevate his play and bring his teammates with him, then this team will be just fine.
The Bad: There is limited talent surrounding Morris. Damorria Lilly was second on the team in carries and led the team in rushing with just over 600 yards. While Morris was able to spread the passes around last season, the leading receiver totaled just 12 catches in 2011. In the three losses De La Salle suffered in 2011, they combined to score just 20 points in those games. The Pilots will see all three of those teams again this year.
The bottom line: De La Salle is far from an odds-on favorite to win the state title and could lose three of its first five games (and four of its first seven) if the offense doesn't improve. The team will take to the road to play against defending Ohio Division I title winner, Cleveland St. Ignatius, on Sept. 1. The defense of the Wildcats will be as good as games against Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice, Novi (Mich.) Catholic Central, and Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's. If the team is blanked in that first contest, it certainly won't inspire much confidence for the next three.
Top 100 countdown
No. 97 Wayzata, Minnesota
Coach: Brad Anderson
Last Season: 12-1, Minnesota Class AAAAA runner-up. Ranked No. 2 in Minnesota.
Fast Fact: Wayzata has alternated winning state titles and being eliminated by Eden Prairie (Minn.) High in each of the last four seasons. Being an even numbered year, 2012 should be the Trojans' year to take home a title.
Key Player: Linebacker Chris Wipson. The string of linebackers at Wayzata has been very impressive and Wipson is the next in line. Coach Anderson has stated that Wipson has all the tools that former players Tommy Becker (Minnesota), James Laurinaitis (Ohio State), and A.J. Tarpley (Stanford) had when they walked the halls of Wayzata. At 6-feet-2 and 220 pounds, Wipson's size fits the build of many of those players and he could approach 100 tackles again as a senior.
The Good: The defense. Over the last five seasons, the team has allowed a total of 561 points and has not allowed more than 160 points in any of those years. It has also given up a total of 87 and 81 points during the 2009 and 2007 seasons, respectively. With Wipson returning, as well as multiple starters on defense, this defense figures to be the strength of the team again in 2012.
The Bad: The level of competition. This is not a knock on Wayzata's team, but it could be a stumbling block on the season. Wayzata does not play a Top 5 team in Minnesota during the regular season. Because of that, there will be adjusted expectations on a national scale. The team prefers to play defense first, no question, but it will need to be able to demonstrate the ability to move the ball on offense against lesser competition if this group is going to be projected into a national ranking.
The bottom line: Minnesota is a little down this season and that could hurt Wayzata if the team struggles. This group has a defense-first mindset and that will give some leeway in evaluations, but the Trojans only play two of the Top 10 teams in the state in the regular season. That could cause this group to slide down the early season rankings as many other teams are playing top level competition. The bright side is that the playoff schedule could produce a much more challenging path and an undefeated year could result in national rankings at the end of 2012.
Top 100 countdown
No. 96 Hutchinson, Kansas
Coach: Randy Dreiling
Last Season: 12-2, Won Kansas Class 5A State Title. Ranked No. 4 in Kansas.
Fast Fact: Hutchinson began playing football in 1906 but did not make it to its first state title game until 2003, which it lost. The team has won the state title every year since, except for 2010. Hutchinson set a state record in the process with six straight titles from 2004-2009.
Key Player: Quarterback Trevor Turner. Hutchinson features a typical run-first offense, but that changed a little bit in 2011 with the emergence of Turner. The 5-foot-9 quarterback threw for nearly 1,000 yards in an offense that almost exclusively features a stout running attack. If Turner is able to keep the opposition honest with the passing game, it will allow the offense to settle into its running style.
The Good: Head Coach Randy Dreiling has brought a pride to the Hutchinson community with a head-down running style that he says can get any fullback a 1,000-yard season. The test will certainly be there this year as Ja'Mon Cotton and Lucas Munds are graduating. Cotton piled up nearly 2,000 yards on the ground in 2011. This system has also consistently produced strong linebacker and defensive line play over the years. There is a young player in Colby Turner who could become the next big thing at Hutchinson. He piled up 73 tackles as a freshman starting at linebacker in 2011.
The Bad: Much like last year, this is not the most talented, fastest, or strongest team that has walked the halls at Hutchinson. Despite winning the state title last season, this team did suffer two losses. Losing so many players on offense -- Cotton and Munds, along with 6-feet-5 tight end Jerome Roehm and two on the offensive line -- could make this an early patchwork unit to come together. If it is slow to develop, the Week 3 game against Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst will be a point of exposure.
The bottom line: Hutchinson gets the benefit of the doubt for what the system has been able to do. The team is usually not the most athletic, nor is it loaded with Division I talent, but it has been competitive and successful with a system that gets the most out of undersized players. This is actually a pretty strong season in Kansas with as many as six quarterbacks potentially committing to DFBS-level schools and any one of Chandler Shantz, Zeke Palmer, Jordan Darling, Montell Cozart, or Brad Strauss could push his team to the top spot in the state and Hutchinson out of the national rankings.