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: Bob Beatty LAST SEASON: 15-1, Kentucky Class 6A State Champs
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 67 in RivalsHigh 100
The Louisville (Ky.) Trinity Shamrocks enter the season as the unquestioned favorite to win a state title. Of course, that's no surprise as the program has won a state title in eight of the past 10 years.
But this fall, with its roster loaded with talent and a schedule loaded with tests, the program has the opportunity to be the first school from Kentucky to make a legitimate run at a national title.
With a group of senior offensive linemen, a returning core of junior skill players and a supporting cast of talented sophomores, this group of Shamrocks wants to prove doubters of Kentucky football wrong.
"Trinity is a different breed," Howie Lindsey, the managing editor for the Louisville Sports Report and its online products CardinalSports.com and KentuckyPreps.com, said. "It is easy for people to forget the city of Louisville has 1.2 million people, and that Trinity, a private school in the heart of the city's East End, can draw from that large population of talent."
It is a roster of players from all over the city who have been attracted like a magnet to the school's football program as well as its top-tier education.
Heile has an offer from Columbia and expects to add major Division I offers with a solid season. English does not have current offers but Virginia Tech has been inquiring.
The trio will be charged with protecting quarterback Travis Wright.
Wright is just a junior, but he is an experienced one. As a sophomore, he took the reigns of the program and led it to a state title and the No. 67 spot in the final RivalsHigh 100 ranking. His efforts made locals start to make comparisons to the program's favorite son, Brian Brohm.
Wright and the junior class are what makes this team special.
"The Rocks' sophomore and junior classes are as talented as just about any school in the country," Lindsey said. "They are the city's premier program right now."
With running back Dalyn Dawkins and cornerback Ryan White rounding out a quintet of juniors that could all end up being Division I contributors in a few years, this Trinity team can transcend stereotypical beliefs of football in the area.
"I have my doubts whether a public school team from Kentucky could compete with some of the monster programs in other states," Lindsey said. "Public school teams in Louisville split talent with all the other public schools and get poached for talent by the privates."
Having the talent that it does makes Trinity unique.
It still isn't without its potential challenges though.
A shift from last season with Derek Bishop to the smaller Dayln Dawkins at runningback is one.
Dawkins is listed at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds and is not a pounder, but he has breakaway speed that few can compete with.
Maybe no other series of plays typified the explosiveness of Dawkins than a playoff game with Louisville (Ky.) Manual, when - on a fourth-and-5 play, Dawkins broke a tackle in the backfield and scored from 30 yards out. A penalty negated that play, but on fourth-and-15 and the very next snap, Dawkins took the same play call down the sidelines for a 40-yard touchdown run.
While Manual is a quality Louisville team, it is not on the scale that Trinity will face week in and week out this season.
"We're excited about this schedule," Trinity athletic director Dennis Lampley said in a press release. "It provides our team with top-notch competition, which only makes everyone work harder."
The schedule includes games against three Ohio teams, two Tennessee teams and an Indiana school as well as three district games against what may be three of the best 10 teams in Kentucky.
"Our fans should get a real kick out of seeing this caliber of football," Lampley said.
It is a schedule that will quickly either justify the Shamrocks or see the expectations crash back down to earth.
"I think Trinity will justify their ranking in most of the games, but I wonder if playing five-straight games against big-time out-of-state competition will take its toll," Lindsey said. "That stretch is the first five weeks of the season. If Trinity is undefeated going into the annual St. X-Trinity matchup on Sept. 30, they have earned the Top 10 national ranking."
Lampley is padding the fanbase for possible mixed results.
"(Our fans) need to be ready for wins and losses," he said. "They need to keep in mind that a schedule like this only makes us that much more ready for the playoffs."
Competing with some of the best teams in the country and successfully navigating the schedule could put Trinity in line to claim the highest finish for a team in Kentucky history.
It could also propel the team to a RivalsHigh 100 title.