RivalsHigh.com has begun its 2010 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.
We started at No. 100 on Monday 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: Nunzio Campanile LAST SEASON: 8-3 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 7 in New Jersey
KEEP AN EYE ON: The transition that Tanner McEvoy will make from the school's all-time leading receiver to quarterback, which could tell the tale for the season at Bergen Catholic. McEvoy had played a little quarterback in ninth grade, but not much to speak of since then. Nunzio Campanile, who has coached a handful of Division I quarterbacks during his tenure at rival Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco , thinks that McEvoy has the tools to become an NFL quarterback.
STRENGTH: Bergen's strength this season is the plethora of talented players it will have on the field. On offense, Karell Bostick, Cameron Dickerson and Spencer Kulcsar join McEvoy. Defensively, Shutang Mungwa and Nick Latesta will hold down the corner spots, making the team tough to throw against. Campanile also believes this team has three Division I-AA offensive linemen at his disposal.
STAR OF THE SHOW: On a team that may have plenty of players, McEvoy will have the spotlight blasted on him. His move to quarterback puts more pressure on him than ever before. Campanile thinks the transition will be easy for McEvoy. "He is our best athlete," Campanile said, "and we will now have the ball in his hands on every play."
QUOTABLE: "Expectations are very high this year," Campanile said. "There are a million things we still need to work on but the biggest thing is instilling a new mentality. I know what we did at Bosco to get where we were and I think the kids here are responding well to the demands on them. We are getting more mentally tough and that is a key to success at all levels."
Top 100 countdown
No. 89 Alcoa, Tennessee
COACH: Gary Rankin LAST SEASON: 15-0, Tennessee Class 3A State Champions FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 61 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: The intense rivalry game that awaits on Aug. 28 with Maryville (Tenn.) High. The Tornadoes won one of the most heated games in the state of Tennessee last year for the first time in a long time and Maryville will be out for revenge. Maryville, the 6A power, certainly did not like losing to the 3A team. For Maryville, it was a little like losing to your little brother.
STRENGTH: The best thing about Alcoa is they know who they are and what they are. This is a team that likes to bully around its opponents and does it well. Coach Gary Rankin has had success at all his stops and continues that pattern with Alcoa. The team returns six starters on offense and five on defense, so the depth is there as well. This is a senior laden team that people in Alcoa have been pointing to since the group was in eighth grade.
BIG TIME IN A SMALL TOWN: According to Rankin, the town of Alcoa presents as Friday Night Lights atmosphere. "The community and the kids really rally around football. It is an old throwback style. Football is big here; it is year round. People are always talking about it."
QUOTABLE: "We are not Hoover [(Ala.) High] or [Duncan (S.C.)] Byrnes. We just don't have the numbers," Rankin said. "The good thing is that our kids don't ever think about things like that. We try to take on whoever is on our schedule with the same approach."
Top 100 countdown
No. 88 Rockhurst, Missouri
COACH: Tony Severino LAST SEASON: 9-3 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 4 in Missouri
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the team bounces back from a disappointing season. In many schools across the country, a 9-3 finish isn't a bad thing. But at Rockhurst, winning is an expectation. The team won all the games it should have won last year, but did not perform well against the teams that were expected to beat them - Hutchinson, Mullen, and Blue Springs. This year, the team returns as the favorites and the target will be on its back.
STRENGTH: The strength of the team is that it will be the most talented team in the state. In a state like Missouri, being the most talented team will lead to success. But not only that, Rockhurst is also very well coached. They do not shoot themselves in the foot and will be in each and every ballgame.
STAR OF THE SHOW: It is rare when a team has a Division I quarterback for that player not to be the main focus. And while Rockhurst has just that in Frank Arbanas, it is the team's tight end, Dan Tapko, who gets the most attention. Tapko is the No. 13 ranked tight end in the nation and is committed to Oklahoma. His ability to make plays at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds makes him a very dangerous threat in the red zone.
NOT TO BE OUTDONE: Rockhurst can also pound the ball on the ground, which its opponents know all too well. This year, it will be Noah Pearl toting the rock. At 6-feet tall and nearly 200 pounds, he has the power to run over people if needed as well as outrun defenders.
EARLY INDICATORS: The first two weeks of the season will tell a lot about the Hawklets. Their first game is against the No. 2 team in the state, Blue Springs. And their second game sends the team to Hutchinson (Kan.) High. While Hutchinson is a little down, Rockhurst did lose 55-27 against the Salt Hawks last season.
Top 100 countdown
No. 87 Eden Prairie, Minnesota
COACH: Mike Grant LAST SEASON: 12-1 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 2 in Minnesota
KEEP AN EYE ON: The three returning starters with three years of varsity experience in Rumeal Harris, Brian Athey, and Grayson Levine. Athey is one of the top quarterbacks in the state and will show his abilities in the pass game. Harris has proven to be a solid wideout with speed, quickness, and good hands. He stood out last year at corner and should perform well this season. Levine will be a leader on defense at safety and is a proven running back and wide receiver.
STRENGTH: The solid receiving core will be able to lead the offense. With Levine, Harris, Barisa Gemeda, and Mike Sandle as well as junior running back Andrew Larson, the team should be able to move the ball with ease. They will be a solid "deep threat" team, which is slightly unusual for teams up in Minnesota.
STUFF THE RUN: Eden Prairie likes to play stingy defense and held its opponents to only 102 total points last season. The core of the team returns and should keep that number in the same range. The very physical Eagles, under Mike Grant - son of legendary coach Bud Grant - have taken the next step into becoming a nationally respected program year in and year out.
STAR OF THE SHOW: There is no clear cut star on the team, but the big three will control the show. Harris, Athey, and Levine are experienced varsity players who can be expected to perform well again this season. All have playoff experience and can make big plays at crucial times.
QUOTABLE: "This is going to be one of the most exciting years for Eden Prairie football offensively," Levine said. "I feel we have the best all around offense and have a very strong receiving core. Our running game will as always be very strong, but we will also show teams they have to respect our pass game. Defensively we will be very solid. We have a great secondary that proves to cause problems for opponents."
Top 100 countdown
No. 86 Coffman, Ohio
COACH: Mark Crabtree LAST SEASON: 12-1 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 9 in Ohio
KEEP AN EYE ON: A defensive end tandem that could be among the best in the state. Notre Dame commit Brad Carrico teams with another D-I prospect in Max Phelps to form an imposing duo. They will need to make a major impact against run-heavy opponents, such as reigning D-I state champions Hilliard Davidson which they face late in the regular season.
STRENGTH: Lighting up the scoreboard. The Shamrocks were no strangers to the end zone last season, averaging more than 37 points per game during the regular season and eclipsing 48 points on four occasions. Coffman always has a potent passing game and this season should be no exception. The quarterback position has also been a traditional point of pride at this school and that will continue this year as well.
STAR OF THE SHOW: Class of 2011 quarterback Cole Stoudt has been the star for two years. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder is the No. 17 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country and boasts offers from a variety of Division I programs. All eyes will be on him in 2010 after a broken leg suffered late last season derailed his promising campaign (16 TDs, 1 INT) and contributed to the team's demise in the playoffs.
QUOTABLE: "Coffman has boasted a parade of top-flight quarterbacks through the years, including former Notre Dame star Brady Quinn," said OhioVarsity analyst Mike Parris. "Stoudt has the chance to put his name at or near the top of that list, but will need to stay healthy in order for Coffman to contend for a D-I crown."