On Monday RivalsHigh.com began its 2009 countdown, ranking high school football teams from first through No. 100.
We started at the bottom of the rankings and will release two groups of five per day; then we'll do a daily countdown from 10th to first, with our No. 1 team to be unveiled Aug. 10 - which will be two weeks from the start of the season.
After that, we will wait until September 1 for the next rankings, and then every Monday during the season.
The team rankings were compiled by high school sports managing editor Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts, and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.
COACH: Andy Lowry LAST SEASON: 11-2
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 5 in Colorado
KEEP AN EYE ON: The passing game. Yes, passing game. Columbine has been almost a strictly run team in their history under Andy Lowry but the coach told RivalsHigh that with the QB and athletes they have that it may dictate they throw the ball. Expect them to still use the multiple T sets, but increase passing.
STAR POWER: Danny Spond is a four star athlete and is committed to Colorado. Spond had 800 yards rushing and 600 yards passing last season. Coach Lowry has called Spond the best football player he has coached at Columbine.
STRENGTHS: Combined with Spond will be a trio of returning athletes for Columbine. Phillip Romero, Sean Neu, and Demetrius McDondle will cause problems for defenses in Colorado.
APPLAUD SPOND: "He won't rack up stats against some of the lesser talented teams we play because that isn't what we do or what we need him to do," Coach Lowry says proudly of his all-state player. "He will be up for state player of the year, community servant, and academics. He is the best kid I have ever coached."
Top 100 countdown
No. 69 Niceville, Florida
COACH: John Hicks LAST SEASON: 9-2
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 29 in Florida
KEEP AN EYE ON: Who emerges as the quarterback. Entering August workouts there is a three way race for the QB position between Kyle McDorman, CJ Scroggins, and Steven Strano. Coach Hicks said that right now McDorman has the early edge.
STAR POWER: Roy Finch is the No. 82 ranked player in the country and he is going to be a focal point of the offense. Coach Hicks told RivalsHigh that his playcalling would be easy this year. Run with Roy. Pass to Kody Williams - a Rivals.com three star player.
STRENGTHS: The defensive line. While they are better than the sum of the parts the defensive line is physical and deep. Being able to rotate in five players to the three man line, all between 240 and 260 pounds.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Coach Hicks thinks this could be a great team but has three question marks going into the season, "If we keep getting better on the offensive line, figure out our quarterback, and find a safety we will be very good."
Top 100 countdown
No. 68 Trinity, Kentucky
COACH: Bob Beatty LAST SEASON: 14-1, Won Kentucky 6A State Title
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 39 Nationally
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Shamrocks replace RB Tim Phillips and LB Jordan Whiting. Look for Xavier Thomas to carry the ball a lot more this season.
STAR POWER: Junior QB Brad Kragthorpe - son of University of Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe - will most likely get the nod under center for Trinity. He will have a chance to shine as Trinity is usually one of the best in the state.
STRENGTH: Depth. While the Shamrocks will not have the star power they did last year they will be deeper. They easily have the most quality depth of anyone in their district.
QUOTABLE: "It will once again come down to Trinity and St. X," Howie Lindsey of KentuckyPreps.com. "Those two are the class of the Derby City this, and most every, year."
Top 100 countdown
No. 67 Wayzata, Minnesota
COACH: Brad Anderson LAST SEASON: 13-0, Won Minnesota 5A State Title
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 74 Nationally
KEEP AN EYE ON: The emergence of ILB Grant Olson. While much of the talk in the area is about OLB A.J. Tarpley and his play but Olson is emerging as a leader for Wayzata.
STAR POWER: The press clippings are mainly for OLB A.J. Tarpley and SDE Tobi Okuyemi - and both are well deserved. Tarpley is committed to Stanford and Okuyemi has yet to decide on his college of choice.
STRENGTH.: The defense. Wayzata is a well oiled machine and they play with a winning swagger. The team is really playing well as a unit and the defense leads that charge.
DO YOUR JOB: "The teams isn't just about the kids who get all the press," defensive coach Steve Lombardi stressed. "It is everyone playing all of their roles that will get us to the Prep Bowl."
Top 100 countdown
No. 66 Manatee, Florida
COACH: Joe Kinnan LAST SEASON: 7-3
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: No. 44 in Florida
KEEP AN EYE ON: The skill players. Manatee is a traditional I-form, or one-set backfield team. But the skill position players have dictated that they use the spread recently. This year those skill players, including Ace Sanders, will be on display.
STAR POWER: Four-year starter Brion Carnes is the star of the team. He is a soft commit to USF but has been seeing more and more offers roll his way. If he can lead Manatee to a state title his stock would soar.
STRENGTHS: Experience. This is a very experience team with many players being two and three year starters. They nearly eliminated St. Thomas Aquinas from the playoffs three years ago losing a heartbreaker and then lost to 45-17 last season as well. Opening with Plant will test them early but this team is focused on a trip back to the playoffs.
COMPETITION: "It is a blessing and a curse," Coach Joe Kinnan said of his team's situation. "5A football in Florida is the best of any football in the country. We are lucky to be a part of that, but it does make it tough to reach for your ultimate goal sometimes."