Video: Top 10 Storylines
See Zack Poff break down 10 storylines all prep football fans should know heading into the 2017 season.
The high school football season is about two months away, and the 7-on-7 season is heating up. But it's never too early to discuss the top storylines heading into the 2017 season.
Top 10 Storylines of 2017New QB ready for hot seat at Bishop Gorman
Foes relieved that 2016 MaxPreps National Player of the Year Tate Martell graduated from 2016 national champion Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
, better brace for the Gaels' next standout, 4-star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder committed to UCLA and is rated the third-best dual threat QB in the country, by 247Sports composite
. He accounted for 17 touchdowns last season, mostly as a wide receiver, but had a nifty 126 QB rating as backup. Replacing current Ohio State freshman Martell, who accounted for 9,801 yards and 148 TDs in his 43-0 Gorman career, might carry some pressure. But Thompson-Robinson, an Elite 11 finalist, appears ready for the job.
He'll be thrown to the wolves against another top-notch national schedule, starting with DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Central (Miami, Fla.) and De La Salle (Concord, Calif.).
New faces, same juggernaut at IMG Academy
No team in the country draws more reaction than IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
, the longtime boarding school for elite athletes. As a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the Ascenders choose not to play for a state title, opting instead to play a national schedule that this year includes games against possible Top 25 teams Chandler (Ariz.), Centennial (Corona, Calif.), Hoover (Ala.), St. John's (Washington, D.C.) and East (Salt Lake City).
IMG, which boasts players from throughout the country, lost standouts to graduation, such as defensive end Joshua Kaindoh (Florida State), linebacker Dylan Moses (Alabama), center Cesar Ruiz (Michigan) and quarterback Kellen Mond (Texas A&M). But the national powerhouse replaced them with Top 50 recruits, including defensive end Xavier Thomas
(No. 2 recruit, Clemson commit), defensive tackle Taron Vincent
(No. 11, Ohio State) and running back T.J. Pledger
(No. 45, Oklahoma). Will Mater Dei finally go bowling?
For all its success under legendary coach Bruce Rollinson, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
has never played in a California Interscholastic Federation bowl game. The Monarchs won national crowns in 1994 and 1996, boast Heisman winners John Huarte (1960) and Matt Leinart (2004) as alums, as well as 2007 Gatorade National Athlete of the Year in Matt Barkley. Since they started playing football in the 1950s, the Monarchs are 534-200 and have won 27 league and nine Southern Section crowns.
But Mater Dei has never made a CIF bowl game since its 2006 inception. However, this is the team most point to as its most talented, led by 2015 National Freshman of the Year and 2016 National Sophomore of the Year, quarterback JT Daniels
, 5-star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown
, and top 100 national linemen Tommy Brown
and Christaphany Murray
Will Trinity Christian Academy make Florida history?
No state has produced more top-tier football talent than the Sunshine State. So staking claim to Florida history is big news. Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.)
seeks a record fifth consecutive state title in 2017 and with talent like safety Tyreke Johnson
(No. 20, uncommitted), the Conquerors (49-6 over last four seasons) have a good shot.
When will nation's top recruit break DeShaun Watson's record?Cartersville (Ga.)
incoming senior quarterback Trevor Lawrence
is the nation's No. 1 recruit. The MaxPreps 2016 Junior Player of the Year is after a third straight AAAA Georgia state title after completing 250-of-406 passes for 3,904 yards and 51 touchdowns last season. A Clemson commit, Lawrence is 2,477 yards and 40 touchdowns away from breaking the state records of 13,077 and 159 held by Watson, who starred at Clemson before being drafted 12th this year by the Texans. Long Beach Poly is again a national factorLong Beach Poly (Calif.)
produced the second-most NFL players of any high school from 1994 to 2014 with 16. The school has bred NFL talent since the 1920s with more than 60 former Jackrabbits having played on Sundays, according to the school's website. But Poly has fallen on hard times with a combined 11-10 record over the last two seasons and a combined 28 losses over the past eight years. The Jackrabbits could consider 2017 as a rebirth into national prominence with the addition of some highly coveted transfers, including the 5-star passing combination of quarterback Matt Corral
and receiver Jalen Hall
DeSoto looks to repeat after first title, offseason acrimony
All was not harmonious following the historic first state title for DeSoto (Texas)
. The contract renewal of longtime assistant and second-year head coach Todd Peterman was delayed for unspecified reasons. Newspaper accounts had him all but fired. However, Peterman was re-hired after two tense weeks, and now his Eagles might just be the best team in Texas again. Quarterback Courtney Douglas
looks to replace All-American Shawn Robinson, and will be joined by 4-star cornerback/athlete Byron Hanspard Jr.
and top running back Kelan Walker
.Perennial national power Don Bosco Prep has a new coach
Greg Toal, one of the nation's most recognizable and respected coaches, unexpectedly stepped down from Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)
in February and now all eyes are on the Ironmen. Toal won 305 games, 16 state and two national titles over 33 seasons, and helped New Jersey emerge on the national map. Former Don Bosco and Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel replaces Toal and inherits a team that includes the nation's No. 60 recruit, defensive tackle Tyler Friday
(6-3, 263). A league of its own in New Jersey
All five teams from the North Jersey Shore United Red league are among the top 100 teams football editor Zack Poff is considering for the Xcellent 25 preseason rankings. Previously mentioned Don Bosco is joined by Bergen Catholic (Oradell)
, St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City)
, Paramus Catholic (Paramus)
and St. Joseph Regional (Montvale)
. As Poff often says, "get your popcorn ready," for the 2017 North Jersey Shore season. Wisconsin pride
The Green Bay Packers may be the most storied program in the NFL, but high school football in Wisconsin gets little respect. That makes no sense considering Kimberly (Wis.
) brings in the longest active win streak in the nation at 56. If the Papermakers run the table, they will win a state record fifth-straight title and extend their streak to 70 games. That would be the nation's 13th longest win streak of all-time.