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July 31, 2010

RivalsHigh 100: 10 teams that just missed

Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

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The preseason RivalsHigh 100 has concluded its first week and its first 50 teams, going 100-51.

In the quest to make the best high school football team ranking available, more than 600 teams began the search with equal footing before the field was narrowed down to the final 100.

While it certainly is more meaningful to end the year ranked than begin it there, the teams who just missed out have something to work towards.

While the teams below are not necessarily penciled in as the first to replace any teams who lose in Week One, they certainly are near the top of the list if their performance merits consideration.

Listed alphabetically:

Blue Springs (Mo.) High
12-2 in 2009, lost in state finals
The Wildcats enter the 2010 season as the No. 2 team in the state of Missouri, but it is very close. The team returns the best player in the state - four-star running back Darrian Miller (pictured) - to an offensive attack that scored 566 points last season. The season opens with a game on the road against the only team ahead of them in the rankings, Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst. A win in that game and the two will switch places in the battle for early season state supremacy. Coach Kelly Donohoe has had nationally-ranked teams before, so he knows what it takes to win and has the talent to get it done this season.
Columbus (Ga.) Carver
11-2 in 2009
Carver is a Class AA school in Georgia which automatically puts it behind the eight-ball with depth. However, the Tigers - as well as many other AA schools - have proven that Georgia's team depth can transcend classes, and this team can compete with the best in other classes. This year's squad returns some of the best talent in the country with three highly rated players on the field. Isaiah Crowell (pictured) is one of the best running backs in the nation this season and look for the Tigers to let him lead the team to victory behind the blocking of Quincy McKinney and the rest of the offensive line.
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
9-3 in 2009
Mainland was a team that was in the RivalsHigh 100 when the list first started taking shape, and there was very little question that this team could compete nationally. However, with the transfer losses of quarterback Austin Parker and the Buccaneers' best offensive lineman in Garrett Clark, there is now a wait-and-see approach being taken. The Bucs do, however, get a few weeks to get settled in before a game with another near-miss team, DeLand (Fla.) High, in early November. Even with the losses, the team is still blessed with a tandem of athletes and Clemson commits - running back Marlin Lane and defensive back Cortez Davis (pictured).
Hilliard (Ohio) Davidson
13-1 in 2009, Ohio Division I state champs
It is very difficult to see a team be affected by an injury to a star player - like Dondi Kirby at Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway missing the season with an ACL injury - but it is downright tragic when a high school team is affected by the loss of a teammate's life. Hilliard Davison will have to replace a player that it expected to carry the load, as starting running back Rico Butler drowned in late May. Butler scored the first touchdown in the state championship game last season against Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville and was beginning to get college offers at the time of his passing. While Davidson may be able to rally around the tragedy, a talent like his will not be easy to replace. (Pictured: Senior DE Keith Heitzman)
Kenosha (Wis.) Bradford
11-1 in 2009
Bradford enters the season as the No. 1 team in Wisconsin but just outside of the RivalsHigh 100. Bradford gave last season's state champion, Milwaukee (Wis.) Marquette all it wanted in an early playoff game, and this year brings back the best player in the state in Melvin Gordon (pictured). While Wisconsin is usually good for placing its best team in the national rankings, this is a bit of a down year for teams in the state but an up year for individual talent. Before any team from Wisconsin gets added to the national rankings, one team will need to really stand out as the best.
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
10-2 in 2009
Booker T. Washington is a team that is no stranger to the rankings, climbing into the RivalsHigh 100 Top 25 last season before stumbling at the end of the year. This Class 3A team is generally stocked with talent and this year is no different. While the top-end talent is not quite what it was last year, the depth of the team may be better. The offensive line has looked good this summer and the receiving core is always a threat. If the Tornadoes can find consistent play at quarterback, the team could find itself back in the rankings very quickly.
Mission Viejo (Calif.) High
12-1 in 2009
The Diablos were literally the last team to not make the list for the preseason RivalsHigh 100. The team came on very strong at the end of last year and suffered a one-point setback to Anaheim (Calif.) Servite to end the season. Coach Bob Johnson is one of the best with quarterbacks in the nation and he will need to work his magic this year as the team lost much of its cast of characters from the previous season. California looks to be fairly wide open this year and a strong run from the South Coast would not be a stunner. (Pictured: Senior OLB Tre Madden)
Prattville (Ala.) High
12-3 in 2009
Prattville is the No. 2 team in Alabama, just ahead of Auburn (Ala.) High, but still quite a way below Hoover (Ala.) High. The reason it is not in the RivalsHigh 100 is youth. This team is one of the most talented teams in the state but much of that talent is young and relatively inexperienced. It would not be a stunner if Prattville ends the year ranked once those kids have a chance to develop. Most certainly circle 2011 as the year the team takes the state. Coach Jamey DuBose didn't put a Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett or a Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco on the schedule to start the season, but the challenge with Miami (Fla.) Central before playoffs start is already circled on a lot of high school football fans' calendars.
Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline
12-2 in 2009, Washington Class 4A state champions
The No. 1 team in Washington is almost always a lock for a Top 50 spot in the RivalsHigh 100; however, the Spartans are experiencing a pretty big turnover this year and it will be interesting to see how the team adjusts. The loss of quarterback Jake Heaps is a big blow to the offense, but what is more is that the new quarterback, just a sophomore, will be behind a young and very inexperienced offensive line so running the ball to relieve the pressure may not be an option early in the season. The first three games of the season are not forgiving and people will learn a lot about Skyline from that. (Pictured: Senior WR Kasen Williams)
Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside
13-2 in 2009
Northside had to bite the bullet and move down to Class AAAA this season with realignment, but that does not take the shine off of the team. This is a squad that was able to hang with the big dogs in AAAAA in 2009 and should make a run, if not own, the smaller classification in 2010. Without a ton of name-brand recruits, it will be more of a team effort this year, but that is nothing new for this team. It is almost too bad the move down was made as there are no real measuring stick games for this team until the playoffs start. An undefeated season is more of an expectation now.



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