The countdown to the No. 1 team in the RivalsHigh 100 is set to begin on July 26. But, with more than 600 teams having been considered for the ranking, there are many good teams who didn't quite make the cut. So, until then, we take a look at the top teams in states and regions that will not be represented in the initial rankings list.
Brockton (Mass.) High football coach Peter Colombo thinks he has a special team this year.
He has a blue chip player - Albert Louis-Jean - committed to Miami (Fla.), an offense that brings back nine starters (but all 11 that will start this year have seen significant playing time), a 1,000 yard rusher, his quarterback, and a defense that never gave up more than 21 points in a single game last season.
All that aside, he knows that a team is more than what can be seen on paper.
"We will have to see how we come out and play together," he said. "Teams everywhere are more than just the sum of their 40 times. Or bench press. Or scholarship offers."
For Brockton, those facts are also things in its favor.
"We are a city school," Colombo said. "We have to hope things come together for us. And that's not an excuse. Teams like [Westwood (Ma.)] Xaverian Brothers and [Boston (Ma.)] Boston College just reload each year. Playing those Catholic teams is very tough for us."
Tough, sure. But not impossible.
New England Top 10
Louis-Jean leads Brockton to the No. 1 spot in New England.
1. Brockton (Mass.) High 2. Rochester (N.Y.) Aquinas Inst.
3. Amherst (N.Y.) Sweet Home 4. West Haven (Conn.) Notre Dame 5. Westwood (Mass.) Xaverian Bro. 6. Melville (N.Y.) St. Anthony's 7. Everett (Mass.) High 8. Monroe (Conn.) Masuk 9. New Canaan (Conn.) High 10. Nashua (N.H.) Bishop Guertin
Brockton went toe-to-toe with Xaverian Brothers twice in 2009, losing both games by seven points. The first loss was at home, a 14-7 defeat. The second, in the playoffs, was a 21-14 setback, and the only time a team broke 20-points on Brockton.
Xaverian Brothers represented New England in the RivalsHigh 100 from start to finish in 2009 - beginning the season at No. 100 and ending it 13-0 and ranked No. 81.
"Xaverian made you guys (at RivalsHigh) look good last year," Colombo said. "Hopefully we will be able to navigate our schedule and end this year like they did last season."
The Boxers will look to its senior class as the stabilizing force to make that run to a state title.
"A team can only go as far as its seniors take them," Colombo said. "And we have a strong line of leaders."
At the front of that line is national commodity Louis-Jean.
Louis-Jean, a four-star defensive back, was named to the Nike Camp all-defense team this summer and had 11 BCS offers entering his senior year.
"Louis-Jean is head and shoulders above the rest of the competition and has too much speed and length to be held in check," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said of the two-way athlete. "He is arguably the most athletic prospect in the area and can lock down the passing game defensively."
However, he is not alone.
Defensively, the team returns an experienced front to go along with its secondary that includes Louis-Jean and Davidson Barthelmy.
6-foot-3, 303-pound mountain William Carruthers will anchor the defensive line alongside rush end Brien Massie.
Brockton will have weapons on offense as well, including its leading pass catcher in wide receiver Ralph Cherry, and running back Traevon Offley.
Colombo thinks that this is the type of team that could compete anywhere, not just Massachusetts or New England.
"We can play with anyone from here to California," he said. "There is great football in a lot of places, but teams here have shown that they can go to Ohio, Jersey or Pennsylvania and win. Xaverian has done it, we have done it. People just underestimate how competitive the football has become up here.
"We are very good. People are going to find out that we can play."
- Freelance sports writer Adam Kurkjian contributed to this report.