RivalsHigh.com has begun its 2010 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.
We started at No. 100 on July 26 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: Tom Bolden LAST SEASON: 8-2 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 24 in Ohio
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Cardinals start the season. Last year, they dropped back-to-back contests in the opening two weeks of the season against state powers Elder and St. Xavier. The 0-2 start was too big of a hole to escape out of in the always crowded Division I, Region 4, and Colerain failed to make the playoffs despite winning its final eight games. The team gets things started this season against a tough Clayton Northmont team in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown and it'll need to come ready to play.
STRENGTH: Running the football is Colerain's bread and butter. A triple-option team, it will run the ball and then run it some more. You can't argue with the strategy when backfield mates Trayion Durham and Tyler Williams are both Division I recruits and each boast 1,300 yard seasons on their resumes. Durham, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound battering ram, is Rivals' second-ranked fullback in the nation for the Class of 2010.
STAR OF THE SHOW: Durham and Williams are featured on offense, but the Cardinals also feature a fearsome linebacker duo of Andrew Smith and recent Notre Dame commit Jarrett Grace. They will need to provide a strong presence in the front seven right out of the gate. In Colerain's 2009 opening night loss, the team was done in by allowing nearly 200 rushing yards to St. Xavier. That can't happen this season.
QUOTABLE: "It was strange to not see Colerain in the Division I playoffs last season considering their national reputation," said OhioVarsity's Mike Parris. "The 8-2 record was nothing to sneeze at, but you know the Cardinals aren't happy unless they are contending for a state championship. The pieces are in place this season and, if they can find a new quarterback to come in and orchestrate the triple option, they should be back in the hunt for a title."
Top 100 countdown
No. 49 Manatee, Florida
COACH: Joe Kinnan LAST SEASON: 13-2 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 26 in RivalsHigh Top 100
KEEP AN EYE ON: If Manatee can produce with expectations. Manatee was ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 for most of last season and was really blown up with its upset win in the Florida Class 5A semifinals over then No. 1 Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas. But, the Hurricanes were unable to keep the momentum up and lost to Tampa (Fla.) Plant in the state final. With four starters back on offense and six on defense, there are still expectations on this team.
STRENGTH: Manatee lost a bunch of big-time playmakers from last year's team, namely Brion Carnes and Ace Sanders, but the Hurricanes return 30 lettermen and one of the best backs in the country in Mike Blakely. The experience on the field can compensate for the losses and should be a strength of the team.
STAR OF THE SHOW: The team may begin and end with Blakely, a Rivals.com four-star prospect. The wrecking-ball running back checks in at 5-foot-9 and nearly 200-pounds. Almost in the Steve Slaton mold with similar quickness, Blakely does not try to avoid contact. He had 1,401 yards on the ground and scored 18 touchdowns last season, and also can catch passes out of the backfield, making him a threat on all plays.
YOUTH IS SERVED: Replacing veteran quarterback Carnes was the biggest question coming into the season for Manatee but, after its spring game, many of those questions were answered as sophomore quarterback Cord Sandberg really stepped up. The 6-foot-2 youngster completed 21 of 23 passes for five touchdowns and showed excellent command of the offense. If he can produce at even 75-percent of that clip, the Hurricanes would be extremely happy and competitive in Class 5A.
Top 100 countdown
No. 48 Jesuit, Oregon
COACH: Ken Potter LAST SEASON: 12-2 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 2 in Oregon
KEEP AN EYE ON: The slot position, where rising star Nicholas Rothstein will get his chance to shine. Rothstein has tremendous skill and nailed a 109 SPARQ rating this summer. His 4.48 speed at UCLA impressed and his 195-pound frame will show up on both sides of the ball. Also, watch for Jesuit to be stronger than normal at quarterback where Eric Williams comes in as a solid passer with some terrific targets to hit in the air in this typically run-oriented powerhouse team.
STRENGTHS: Jesuit's depth has never been better and, for a young team, they return a lot of talent. The team returns eight all-league athletes, and coach Ken Potter has said he is very impressed with his big and agile line which Jesuit has not always been known for. Defensively, the secondary features seniors Jordan Talley and Miles Weatheroy. Combine them with Cermak Bland, who was hurt last year but could start on both offense and defense, and the defense will be capable of swarming the ball. The middle is held down by Jack Nelson, a hard-hitting, 230-pound middle linebacker who will double at fullback. Offensively, watch for 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end John Rizzo to make his mark this season, after waiting for his chance to start behind Jacob Wark, who went to California.
STAR OF THE SHOW: Look for tailback Talley, who had 20 rushing touchdowns last season, to continue to blossom as a senior. He ran in tandem with Oregon-bound All-American Keanon Lowe last year and has his chance to step up into the spotlight this season.
IS IT THEIR TURN? Last season, Jesuit lost its opening game to Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline, but played a close game. It then ran the table for 12 straight games before losing in the state championship game to Eugene (Ore.) Sheldon in a 50-43 shootout. This year, though, Sheldon will likely not give Jesuit a run. Metro League opponent Aloha might have a shot, but beating Jesuit this year seems like a tall order for any team in Oregon.
QUOTABLE: "This team simply reloads every year," said OregonPreps editor Dirk Knudsen. "In the past, they have won and rarely had a featured quarterback. Now comes Williams, who is showing signs of being able to really throw the ball. They're going to be tough to beat."
Top 100 countdown
No. 47 Warren Central, Ind.
COACH: John Hart LAST SEASON: 13-2 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 2 in Indiana
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the team matches up with Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville in Week Two. Very rarely does a game between the top team in Indiana and the top team in Ohio really mean much, but this Warren Central team may actually be able to match up with top-end talent. The Warriors have seven kids with Division I offers and depth, as they play 35 guys deep. Expectations are very high at Warren Central and taking on a national-level opponent like Glenville could be a defining moment for high school football in Indiana, where fans are typically hoping to not have their school's best basketball players get injured.
STRENGTH: The overall talent and depth on the defensive side of the ball is unusual to see from an Indiana team. Up front, the line can feature two players both headed to the ACC in four-star recruits Kris Harley and Kiaro Holts. The pair goes 6-foot-2, 265 pounds and 6-foot-5, 270 pounds respectively. Behind them is a pair of 6-foot linebackers - Nick Temple, who has committed to Cincinnati, and Damon Williams. And the secondary boasts another Big East commit in Eric Robinson-Berry, who will attend Louisville. He will line up alongside one of the team's best athletes in Robert Hollins, who is primarily a wide receiver but can make an impact just about anywhere.
TWO-HEADED BACKFIELD: Warren Central opens the season with two major players in the backfield. The return of Anthony Davis gives the team one option, but, according to coach John Hart, his understudy, junior Deionte Buckley, could be even better. Hart said that Buckley has an on-field style very similar to Maurice Clarrett.
QUOTABLE: "I really do not think there will be a team in the country that will play harder than we do this year," Hart said. "We lost a lot of kids but we brought back the right ones, and this is a very talented very hungry team we have here. We make our schedule to challenge these kids and people who see our program for the first time will be surprised."
Top 100 countdown
No. 46 Acadiana, Louisiana
COACH: Ted Davidson LAST SEASON: 10-3 FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 9 in Louisiana
KEEP AN EYE ON: If Acadiana can match the high expectations that it is seeing in 2010. Last year was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Rams, with a team that returned some of the fewest numbers in the state. This season, all of those young kids have grown up and the team brings back 17 starters. Coach Ted Davidson is 62-18 in his seven seasons at Acadiana and this looks to be his best team yet.
STRENGTH: The offensive line brings back all five starters from last season and will be among the best units in the country. Being that the Rams run an old-school veer offense, the guys up front get to be aggressive and smash heads all game. Trey Junker is the most experienced player, starting since his sophomore year. He has split time at guard and tackle, but will slide inside and play center this year. Senior tackle Nick Smith stands 6-foot-4 and tips the scales at 280; the other tackle, Cody Nero, also returns, as do both guards in junior Barrett Guidry and senior Cade Dawes.
THE RUN-AROUND: Yes, the Rams bring back a ton of starters. But two noticeable losses will be from the backfield as Blair Broussard and Josh Pillard both graduated. The pair ran for 1,321 yards and 1,152 yards respectively and combined for 35 touchdowns. Replacing that production will be very difficult, but not impossible, as Jeff Brown and Terry Abraham will certainly get opportunities to tote the rock.
TRANSFERRING TALENT:Darius Ridgeway, a transfer from Riverview (Fla.) Spoto, has made his impact felt immediately. Ridgeway was a contributor as a sophomore last season and has stepped in at Acadiana and taken over at linebacker for what would have been a returning starter.