Last year, a medium-sized school from Florida finished as the No. 1 team in the nation. This year, it could happen again.
Washington (Miami) went undefeated in 2013 and claimed the No. 1 ranking in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Football Rankings, presented by the Army National Guard. As a result, Washington was also the No. 1 team in the final MaxPreps Medium Schools Football Rankings.
This year, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) has a chance to do the same thing. The Patriots begin the season ranked No. 6 on the MaxPreps Early Contenders
list and they could move up in the rankings with a season-opening win over No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas.
American Heritage also opens the season as the No. 1 team in the MaxPreps Medium Schools Football Rankings. The Patriots edge out Washington for the top spot. The rankings are based, in part, on the preseason MaxPreps Computer Rankings.
Texas has four teams in the top 25 of the medium schools list while Louisiana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania have three teams each. California does not have any teams in the top 25, however that is due mainly to the realignment of two of the state's top two medium school teams, Serra (Gardena) and Chaminade, to the Mission League, which falls into the large schools Pac-5 Division.
MaxPreps Preseason Medium Schools National Football Rankings1. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), 14-1 last year
The Patriots' only loss last year was to Central (Miami), as they went on to win 14 straight games and capture a state championship. The lineup includes a number of Division I prospects, including Torrance Gibson
and Tarvarus McFadden
. American Heritage will get a good test in its first game when it takes on St. Thomas Aquinas.2. Washington (Miami), 14-0
Last year's No. 1 team in the final Xcellent 25, Washington is No. 2 in the medium schools rankings. The Tornadoes lost a bundle of Division I players, including quarterback Treon Harris, but they return prospects
at defensive back and receiver Antonio Calloway
.3. Bellevue (Wash.), 14-0
Winners of six straight Class 3A state championships and nine titles in the past 11 seasons, Bellevue has won 54 games in a row heading into the 2014 season. Although state player of the year Budda Baker is gone, coach Butch Goncharoff has a pair of Division I prospects returning in offensive lineman Henry Roberts
and linebacker Mustafa Branch
.4. Buford (Ga.), 15-0
The Wolves continue to move up in enrollment divisions, moving from Class AAA to AAAA this year. The schedule is also a tough one, as Buford opens with top-rated small school Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.) and large school powerhouse McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.). Buford has won two straight state championships and 25 straight games and has as many as seven Division I prospects on the roster. 5. Easton (New Orleans), 10-3
A high number of returning Division I prospects puts Easton as the team to beat in the Class 4A state playoffs. Heading the list is wide receiver Tyron Johnson
.6. St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio), 15-0
Winner of two straight state championships and 21 straight games, the former school of NBA great LeBron James has become known as much for its football program as its basketball program.7. Curtis (River Ridge, La.), 10-2
The perennial powerhouse Patriots have won three straight state championships and eight in the past 10 years. Curtis returns six starters on both sides of the ball, along with an undefeated JV team moving up.8. Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.), 13-2
Winner of a Class 3A state title two of the past three seasons, Archbishop Wood has everything in place for another crown. The Vikings return nine starters on offense and eight on defense and also have an undefeated junior varsity team moving up. A pair of Penn State recruits in offensive lineman Ryan Bates
and linebacker Jake Cooper
dot the roster.9. University Lab (Baton Rouge, La.), 13-1
University Lab's only loss came against Curtis last year in the Division II championship game. The Cubs return one of the state's top running backs in LSU-bound Nick Brossette
.10. Argyle (Texas), 16-0
After winning five straight district championships, Argyle captured a Class 3A-II state championship last year. Reclassified as Class 4A-I this year, the Eagles return eight total starters from a team that went 16-0 last year.11. Griffin (Ga.), 15-0
Griffin is the defending Class 4A champion, but it will now have to deal with Buford in order to repeat. Griffin has to like its chances, however, as it returns seven starters on offense and six on defense with an undefeated JV team moving up.
12. Franklin (Reisterstown, Md.), 12-2
The Indians return 18 starters, including 10 on offense, from a team that got off to a 2-2 start but went on to win a Class 3A state championship. 13. Oxford (Miss.), 14-1
Although Oxford fell to Picayune in the playoffs last year after winning 14 straight games to start the season, it returns a solid core of players with six starters on both sides of the ball, including junior quarterback Jack Abraham
.14. Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.), 14-2
The Class 3A state runner-up last year to Archbishop Wood, Bishop McDevitt has won three straight league championships and has a 123-28 record since 2003.15. Picayune (Miss.), 12-2
Picayune has won state championships in 2013 and 2011 and also defeated powerful Oxford in the postseason last year. The Maroon Tide has posted a 103-30 record since 2003.16. Webb City (Mo.), 14-1
The Cardinals have posted a 142-9 record since 2003 and have won four straight state championships. Webb City has also won the league title every year since 2003.17. Kilgore (Texas), 14-1
The only loss for Kilgore came against Carthage in the playoffs. Although it has won just one state championship in the last decade, it has posted a 105-35 record in the past 12 years. The Bulldogs have eight returning starters, including Division I prospect Kevrin Justice
.18. Graham (Texas), 14-1
The Steers have won five straight district titles and advanced to the semifinals last year before losing to eventual state champion Argyle. Coach Kenny Davidson returns seven starters on offense and defense.19. Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.), 14-0
The defending Division II champion lost a ton of Division I talent from last year's undefeated team, but seven starters return, including a talented linebacking group that includes Taylor Powell
.20. South Fayette (McDonald, Pa.), 16-0
Quarterback Brett Brumbaugh
returns to help lead the Lions in a quest for a second straight Class 2A state championship. South Fayette defeated Imhotep Charter 41-0 in last year's title game.21. Jackson Prep (Miss.), 12-2
The Patriots went 12-2 last year, including a win over Class 2A state champion Bassfield. Winner of two straight MAIS AAA I state championships, Jackson Prep has a tough opener against Oxford Aug. 22.22. Navasota (Texas), 10-2
A state champion in 2012, Navasota could make another run at a state championship this year as the Rattlers return eight offensive starters and seven defensive starters, including all of their top skill position players.
23. Anadarko (Okla.), 14-0
The Warriors have turned into a powerhouse, winning four straight district titles and two state championships in the past three seasons. Anadarko has also won 14 straight games, including a 40-0 win over Poteau in last year's Class 4A state championship game.24. Fulton (Knoxville, Tenn.), 15-0
The Falcons have won two straight Class 4A state championships and have won 21 straight games. Fulton has one of the state's top defensive linemen in 6-foot 5, 270-pound Jonathan Roth.25. Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.), 13-1
The Sabercats won 13 games in a row to finish the season and won a Division III state championship. Saguaro has won three state championships in the past four seasons.