Video: Top 25 Preseason Early ContendersWith St. Thomas Aquinas leading the way, South Florida stacked once again.
Picking the best 25 high school football teams from a pool of more than 15,000 squads nationally appears akin to searching for needles in the proverbial haystack.
But records, coaching continuity, previous championships and the ever-increasing resources to locate top-end talent — Hudl, recruiting sites, highlight reels — has allowed for better educated stabs to choose the cream-of-the-crop squads.
There's also tradition.
In 2016, 13 of the top 25 from the MaxPreps Early Contenders are from the perennial power three states — Texas, Florida and California — with five each from the Longhorn and Sunshine states, including No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Aquinas has won two consecutive Florida state titles, nine overall and multiple mythical national crowns. Coach Roger Harriott knows the landscape. But the attention around his program and around South Florida — where six teams from the Top 50 reside — has been off the charts this spring. College coaches have been everywhere. His explanation:
"Most regions of the country play football," Harriott said. "In this southeast region, we live and love football with authentic passion."
MAXPREPS TOP 25 PRESEASON EARLY CONTENDERSClick school name for previews 1. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
2. Grayson (Loganville, Ga.)
3. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
4. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
5. Cedar Hill (Texas)
6. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
7. Roswell (Ga.)
8. DeSoto (Texas)
9. St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)
10. Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.)
11. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
12. Steele (Cibolo, Texas)
13. Katy (Texas)
14. Colerain (Cincinnati, Ohio)
15. Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
16. Central (Miami, Fla.)
17. Northwestern (Rock Hill, S.C.)
18. Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Fla.)
19. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.)
20. Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)
21. Centennial (Corona, Calif.)
22. Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)
23. Mountain Pointe (Phoenix, Ariz.)
24. Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
25. Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)