Video: Top 100 preseason football teams
Host Zack Poff goes over some of the best teams in the nation and why they were selected.
Before you can be considered for the Top 25 Early Contenders, you must make it into the Top 100.
The Top 25 Early Contenders list is still a few weeks away. What's here now is a list of the teams that we think are worthy of Top-100 status for 2017.
It's of little surprise that California, Florida and Texas dominate the list. Thirty-six of the possible 100 spots are occupied from teams coming from those locales.
But that doesn't mean the wealth isn't spread around. Twenty-eight states have teams featured on our list and so does the District of Columbia.
We're not ready to rank the teams yet. But for now, enjoy our list organized by state and in alphabetical order.
Alabama (2)Central (Phenix City)
The Red Devils are led by 4-star wide receiver Justyn Ross
, the No. 1 player from Alabama, and will have one of the most talented teams in the state.Hoover
The defending class 7A state champs will be in the thick of things once again in 2017.
The reigning 6A state champs have arguably the most talented team in the state, led by MaxPreps Sophomore All-American quarterback Jacob Conover
.Mountain Pointe (Phoenix)
Mountain Pointe seeks to avenge a title-game loss to Chandler with a state title this season.
Photo by Mark Jones
The Arizona power was one win away from claiming its second perfect season in school history but lost to Chandler in last year's 6A state championship game. The Pride lost 4-star safety Isaiah Pola-Mao to the next level, but his younger brother, Matthew Pola-Mao,
should help lead one of the best defenses in the country.Saguaro (Scottsdale)
The Sabercats enter 2017 as winners of 25 straight and have a chance to do something no other Arizona high school football team has ever done — win a fifth-consecutive state championship.
Arkansas (1)Pulaski Academy (Little Rock)
The Bruins have become one of the most notable teams in the country with their style of play. One thing is for sure: it works. Since 2013 they have gone 51-3 and have won three consecutive state titles. They will be one of the highest-scoring teams in all of high school football in 2017 with Layne Hatcher
back slinging the rock. He threw for 4,656 yards and 58 touchdowns during his junior season.
California (12)Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
The boys from the 619 are coming off one of the best seasons in San Diego Section history. They went 15-0, capped off with a Division 1-AA CIF state title. The Dons lost some key players, but still have some legit returners, led by running back Shawn Poma
. Centennial (Corona)
The Inland Empire power emerged as one of the best prep football programs in the country. The Huskies are once again loaded with talent, and it all starts with 4-star quarterback Tanner McKee
. Chaminade (West Hills)
Chaminade has playmakers on offense led by Ryan Stevens
, Andrew Vanburen
and 4-star Stanford commit Michael Wilson
, despite losing transfers T.J. Pledger and Brevin White.De La Salle (Concord)
Since the start of the 2006 season, De La Salle has a 145-10 record to go with not one, not two, but six CIF state championships. The Spartans have their best defensive duo since the Boss Tagaloa and Devin Asiasi days in Henry To'oto'o
and Tuli Letuligasenoa
. Long Beach Poly
There hasn't been this much hype at Long Beach Poly in quite some time. Coach Antonio Pierce has some big-time offensive weapons after former Oaks Christian quarterback Matt Corral
and former Hawkins wide receiver Jalen Hall
both transferred. The two are the top recruits overall in the state in the class of 2018.Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
When it comes to talent, Mater Dei lines up with anyone in the country. You could make a strong case they have the best player in all of high school football in 5-star incoming junior quarterback J.T. Daniels
, who has thrown for 7,891 yards and 100 touchdowns in his first two seasons. He was the only non-senior to make the MaxPreps All-American team last season and was the MaxPreps Sophomore All-American of the Year. Mission Viejo
Mission Viejo enters 2017 winners of 39 of its last 40 games. The Diablos have one of the best duos in the country with 4-star cornerback Olaijah Griffin
and 4-star wide receiver and Washington commit Austin Osborne
heading into their senior season. Narbonne (Harbor City)
Narbonne was one win away last season from playing in the Division 1-AA CIF state championship game, but fell short, 35-28, to Cathedral Catholic. The Gauchos have a lot of talent coming back from last year's 14-win squad, led by 3-star quarterback Jalen Chatman
and 4-star USC commit Raymond Scott
. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village)
The Lions might have lost 5-star quarterback Matt Corral, but they do get former Dorsey (Los Angeles) stud Kayvon Thibodeaux
, the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2019 class in. Rising junior Josh Calvert
should take over at quarterback, but will still play a big role on the defensive side with his older brother, Bo Calvert
, a 2018 USC commit.
Serra has produced some of the most talented players from Southern California over the past decade — Adoree' Jackson, Marqise Lee, Robert Woods, George Farmer and Paul Richardson to name a few. The 2017 team should add some guys to that list with 4-star athlete Bryan Addison
and 4-star linebacker Merlin Robertson
. St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
The Braves are the reigning Open Division champs in California, and there aren't signs of a let-down this season.
Photo by Louis Lopez
The defending CIF Open Division state champs will be right in the thick of things again in 2017. Despite losing talent in the trenches and at wide receiver, the Braves are still loaded with 2018 Iowa State commit Re-al Mitchell
returning at quarterback and 5-star defensive back Jaiden Woodbey
leading the way for one of the top defenses in the country.
St. Mary's (Stockton)
The Rams are coming off a 14-2 season and should compete for a state title again this year behind one of the best rushing attacks in the state led by Dusty Frampton
Colorado (1)Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
The Colorado power has won seven state championships over the past eight seasons. Expect them to compete again this year behind 2018 Colorado commit Blake Stenstrom
and top 2019 prospect Luke McCaffrey
. It will mark the ninth consecutive season that a McCaffrey suits up for the Eagles.
Florida (12)American Heritage (Plantation)
The defending class 5A state champions finished Patrick Surtain's first year as head coach 14-0 and No. 10 spot in our final Xcellent 25 rankings presented by the Army National Guard. The Patriots will again have one of the best defenses in the country, led by the top two cornerbacks in the 2018 class in all of Florida — Patrick Surtain II
and Tyson Campbell. Armwood (Seffner)
Legendary head coach Sean Callahan had over 200 wins during his tenure at Armwood and turned the program into a state powerhouse, but had to step down in May because of health-related issues. Don't expect that to slow down former offensive coordinator and new head coach Evan Davis, who inherits one of the most talented teams in Florida led by 4-stars Brian Snead
and Warren Thompson
. Booker T. Washington (Miami)
The South Florida power should be among the states best next season with Daniel Richardson
under center. A name to remember is Tyquan Thornton
, expect a breakout senior campaign for the speedy receiver.Carol City (Miami)
Speaking of Booker T. Washington, Carol City's new head coach Benedict Hyppolite played for Tim "Ice" Harris and takes over for the defending class 6A state champions. Florida is no joke when it comes to talent and Carol City matches anyone else in the state, led by one of the best backfields in the country with 4-star Miami commit Camron Davis
and 4-star 2019 prospect Nayquan Wright
sharing the rock. Central (Miami)
Miami Central had its string of 4-straight state titles snapped last season, but expect the Rockets to be in contention in 2017. They are loaded with big-time players and they have one of the best running backs in the country in 2018 Florida State commit James Cook
. The younger brother of Dalvin Cook checks in as the No. 3 running back in the 2018 class and is a top 10 recruit overall in the state. Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood)
South Florida is known for having arguably the best talent and Chaminade-Madonna is loaded with some of the top players in the state. Top 100 recruit Xavier Williams
committed to Alabama back in January and checks in as a top 20 wide receiver and top 20 player in the state among the 2018 class. In the backfield you have to deal with 4-star Auburn commit Shaun Shivers
and Keyondre White
. 3-star Marvin Alexander
helps form one of the best wide receiving tandems in the country. In the trenches they have 3-star offensive guard Sebastian Sainterling
opening up lanes and on defense 2018 Kentucky commit Davoan Hawkins
is an absolute beast. IMG Academy (Bradenton)
IMG Academy enters this season riding a 29-game winning streak and the Ascenders will once again have one of the most talented teams in all of high school football. Two former Southern California studs to keep on this year is former Chaminade star T.J. Pledger
and former Calabasas standout Brendan Radley-Hiles
. Northwestern (Miami)
Northwestern is coming off an impressive 11-2 season with its only two losses coming by a combined nine points to American Heritage and Carol City. The name to remember from Northwestern is 2018 Florida Atlantic commit Chatarius Atwell Jr.
, he might be the most underrated player in all of high school football.
Plant had one of the best seasons last year out of any Florida team, but unfortunately had to play St. Thomas Aquinas in the class 7A state championship game. That was the only loss the Panthers suffered in 2016, so expect them to be just as competitive in 2017. Jordan McCloud
takes over at quarterback and expect to hear a lot from Judge Culpepper
and Ty Thompson
this season.Southridge (Miami)
Billy Rolle became the first coach in Florida history to win a state title with three different schools after leading Southridge to its first state championship since 1993. With a very talented defense and two 2018 Miami commits at wide receiver in Mark Pope
and Daquris Wiggins
, expect the Spartans to compete for another state title in 2017. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)
St. Thomas Aquinas has the schedule, the talent and the pedigree to compete for a national title in 2017.
Photo by Richard Ta
After finishing last season as the No. 6 team in the final Xcellent 25, expect the Raiders to be on a short list of teams to compete for the No. 1 spot in 2017. The Florida power won its 10th state title last winter and joined Bolles (Jacksonville) as the only teams in Florida history to win at least 10 state championships. Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville)
The Jacksonville power joined a short list of Florida schools after winning its fourth-consecutive state championship last season. If the Conquerors make it five in a row they will be the first ever from Florida to do so. Despite losing Shaun Wade and D.J. Matthews to graduation, 5-star defensive back Tyreke Johnson
will lead a very talented team in 2017.
Buford has played in the state championship game for 10 consecutive seasons and has won seven state titles since 2007. Former Roswell head coach John Ford takes over for the legendary Jess Simpson, who took a job as a defensive line coach at Georgia State. A good defense and a strong rushing attack led by two 3-star recruits, Anthony Grant
and Christian Turner
, should play a huge role for Ford in his first season at Buford. Cartersville
As the No. 1 recruit in the 2018 class, Trevor Lawrence
has had one of the best high school careers as anyone ever from Georgia. He is on pace to shatter former Gainesville and Clemson star Deshaun Watson's state record for most career passing yards. He is only 2,476 yards away and he has thrown for over 3,000 yards every season since becoming the starter as a freshman. The future Clemson Tiger has gone 42-2 as the starting quarterback for Cartersville and he hasn't lost a game since his freshman campaign. He is hoping he can lead his boys to a third-consecutive state title to close out his high school career. Colquitt County (Moultrie)
Rush Propst might have a very young team entering the season, but the Packers are one of the most talented teams in Georgia. They gained a lot of momentum last season after starting the season 0-4 by reeling off eight wins in a row until running into Grayson (Loganville) in the playoffs. Class of 2020 running back Daijun Edwards
is one of the best in his class and 4-star linebacker JJ Peterson
is one of the most talented football players in the country. Grayson (Loganville)
Even with a new coach entering the 2017 season, Grayson will be one of the top teams in the country. Christian Hunnicutt replaces Jeff Herron at the helm and he is very familiar with the program after being the school's offensive line coach in 2015. Despite losing a ton of talent from last year's team, the Rams have one of the top 5 recruits overall in the 2019 class in 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe
and 4-stars Wanya Morris
, Ronald Thompkins Jr.
and Kevin G. Harris II
to help fill out one of the best rosters in all of Georgia.Roswell
Matt Kemper should keep Roswell among the top in the state after John Ford helped get the Hornets back to relevance. Cordel Littlejohn
is a name to keep tabs on this season as he takes over at quarterback and should have a big-time senior campaign.
Tucker was so close to claiming the school's third state title since 2008 and first since 2011 but lost in the class 6A championship to Valdosta. The Tigers will be right in the thick of things again in 2017 led by one of the best trios of talent in the state in 4-star offensive lineman Dylan Wonnum
, 4-star wide receiver Josh Vann
and 4-star linebacker Michael Harris
No high school program has won as many football games as Valdosta. The Wildcats have over 900 wins and the class 6A state title last season was the 24th in school history, but first since 1998. Hunter Holt
gets the keys to the quarterback position and is coming off an impressive junior campaign. He threw for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns while splitting time with Josh Belton and also led the team in rushing. Four-star linebacker Zakoby McClain
should lead the way for one of the toughest defenses in all of Georgia.
Sophomore quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava is a big name to keep tabs on from the islands.
Photo by Daryl Oumi
The Aloha State has produced some of the best quarterbacks over the last decade and now add Class of 2020 prospect Sol-Jay Maiava
to the list. The Red Raiders have gone 33-4 over the last three seasons; don't expect anything to change in 2017. Makoa Freitas takes over as the interim head coach and he will have one of the most talented teams in all of Hawaii.St. Louis (Honolulu)
The Crusaders won the inaugural Open Division state championship last season against Kahuku but will have to find a way to replace 5-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, arguably the best quarterback the state has seen since Marcus Mariota. Class of 2018 Hawaii commit Chevan Cordeiro
should help keep St. Louis among the state's best. Faatui Tuitele
checks in as a Top-15 recruit overall in the 2019 class and 3-star defensive back Isaiah Tufaga
will help form one of the best defenses from the Aloha State.
Illinois (2)Loyola Academy (Wilmette)
Former NFL linebacker John Holecek has been one of the best coaches in the country since taking over in 2006. Loyola Academy has won at least 11 games nine years in a row and has made the postseason every year under Holecek. Don't expect things to change much in 2017.Prairie Ridge (Crystal Lake)
The Wolves are coming off a 14-0 season that saw them win the class 6A state championship. They finished last year as the top-rated team from the state and will have a good chance to repeat as the best from Illinois this season. Class of 2018 Iowa commit Samson Evans
led the team in passing and rushing last season and expect another big-time campaign for the stud quarterback.
Indiana (4)Ben Davis (Indianapolis)
The Giants return a lot of talented players from last year's team that made it all the way to the class 6A semifinals. Reese Taylor
and Johnny Adams
will lead the way offensively and on defense expect Sir'Zion Dance
, Willie Ervin
and Elijah Ball
to be one of the best trios in the state. Carmel
The defending class 6A state champs won one of the toughest postseason brackets in the country last season by knocking off reigning state champion Center Grove in overtime. The Greyhounds are trying to become the first school since Warren Central in 2006 to win consecutive state championships in the largest classification and with starting quarterback Jake McDonald
returning and some other key starters, they will have a decent chance at repeating.
Center Grove (Greenwood)
Center Grove was so close to becoming the first team in a decade to repeat as state champ in the largest classification but fell short in overtime to Carmel in the class 6A state championship. The Trojans have won at least 11 games in four of the previous five seasons and they have made it to the state playoff semifinals every year since 2011. Warren Central (Indianapolis)
Warren Central will be one of the most talented teams in the state and it all starts with its 4-star wide receiver David Bell
. He checks in as a top 50 recruit overall in the 2019 class and is the No. 1 player in the state. He was named to the MaxPreps Sophomore All-American First Team after hauling in over 100 receptions for 1,201 yards and 17 scores. It looks like the third George will take over at quarterback, as Jayden George
will try and do something his older brother and father accomplished - lead the school to a state title.
Kentucky (1)Trinity (Louisville)
The Louisville power finished last season as the No. 16 team in the final Xcellent 25 rankings after breezing through the 2016 season with a 15-0 record and a class 6A state championship. It was the school's 24th state title and 12th under head coach Bob Beatty.
Louisiana (5)Edna Karr (New Orleans)
Edna Karr snapped Neville's 39-game winning streak in the class 4A state championship to claim its second state title since 2012. The Cougars enter the 2017 season riding a 14-game winning streak. Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport)
The Eagles finished last season as the No. 1 team in the Louisiana computer rankings after finishing the year with 12 consecutive wins and a Division 1 state championship win against Scotlandville. They will have one of the best defenses in the state next season led by three LSU commits: Davin Cotton
, Micah Baskerville
and Ardarius Washington
.John Curtis Christian (River Ridge)
John Curtis Christian finished last season 10-1 with its lone loss coming to Evangel Christian Academy in the Division 1 semifinals. With most of the team coming back this year, expect the perennial power to be one of the best in the state in 2017. Landry-Walker (New Orleans)
After dropping its first two games of the season, Landry-Walker bounced back and won 12 in a row with the big one coming in the class 5A state championship. Even with Keytaon Thompson now at Mississippi State the Buccaneers return some big-time players, led by 4-star wide receiver Devonta Jason
and 4-star defensive back Corione Harris
. Parkway (Bossier City)
The Panthers will arguably have the most talented team in the state entering the 2017 season. They have the No. 1 and No. 3 players in the state and two of the top 100 recruits from the 2018 class in Justin Rogers
and Terrace Marshall
. Rogers proved he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country by earning a spot to compete at The Opening later this summer and Marshall checks in as the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2018 class and the 5-star talent is the No. 10 recruit overall.
Maryland/DMV Area (4)DeMatha (Hyattsville)
The DMV power finished last season as the No. 8 team in our final Xcellent 25 rankings after going 12-0 and capturing the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title for the fourth consecutive season. Despite losing some key pieces they will still be one of the top teams from the DMV area. St. Frances Academy (Baltimore)
Things started to click for the Panthers once Henry Russell came over from Gilman (Baltimore). In his first season as head coach, St. Frances went 10-2 with the only two loses coming to Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.) and IMG Academy. When
it comes to talent the Panthers match up with anyone in the DMV area, led by 4-stars Eyabi Anoma
and Jaelyn Duncan
. A name to remember is 2020 prospect Osman Savage
, a 220-pound running back who has potential to live up to his last name. St. John's (Washington, D.C.)
St. John's has emerged as one of the best teams in the area and just like St. Frances Academy, IMG Academy, and Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.) the Cadets have one of the toughest national schedules in the country. During a four-week stretch in September they play at De La Salle, host St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.), at IMG Academy and home against St. John Bosco. All four are in the top 100 preseason rankings and the St. John's is the last team to beat IMG Academy.
Wise (Upper Marlboro)
The Pumas enter 2017 riding a 28-game winning streak after winning back-to-back state titles. Wise has the best player in the state in 4-star Florida State commit AJ Lytton
, one of the best two-way players in all of high school football. The same goes for Demetri Morsell
, an underrated gem who finished last season with a team-leading eight interceptions, was second in receiving, and was the Pumas' third-leading rusher.
Michigan (1)Cass Tech (Detroit)
The Technicians of Cass Tech lost major talent from last season, but have plenty of pieces to fill in the gaps.
Photo by Wayne Litmer
The Detroit power has proven to be one of the best teams from Michigan year in and year out, and is loaded with talent even after losing 5-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and 3-star quarterback Rodney Hall. Kalon Gervin
, a 4-star defensive back, is one of the best shut down corners in the country, Aaron Jackson
gets the keys to the quarterback position and DeAndre Square
is a big-time playmaker on defense. Expect a monster season from the Southfield AT&T transfer Brandon Gray
, and it's no wonder Cass Tech has a good chance to defend its Division 1 state title this season.
Minnesota (2)Eden Prairie
The Eagles were one win away from their 11th football state championship and fifth since 2011 but lost to Totino-Grace (Fridley) in the class 6A title game. Eden Prairie should figure again in 2017 as starting quarterback Cole Kramer
and leading rusher Solofa (Solo) Falaniko
are both back to go along with the No. 2 recruit in the state Benny Sapp
The only team to beat Eden Prairie last season was Totino-Grace, which did it twice. The two schools have met eight time since 2011 and while Eden Prairie won the first five, Totino-Grace has reeled off the last three. The 28-20 win in the class 6A state championship game was the 10th state title in school history and it was the sixth time Totino-Grace finished undefeated.
Mississippi (1)West Point (West Point)
Now that Cam Akers has graduated from Clinton, the new team to pay attention to in Mississippi is West Point. They won the class 5A state title last year and finished the season riding a 13-game winning streak. Marcus Murphy
, a 4-star Mississippi State commit, is one of the favorites to win the state Gatorade Player of the Year award and the Green Wave return a lot of key players from last year's 14-win team.
Missouri (1)Christian Brothers (St. Louis)
When it comes to talent, the boys from St. Louis have the most in the state, starting with Kamryn Babb
, who checks in as the No. 1 wide receiver on 247sports. The Cadets have one of the best receiver duos because Babb's sidekick, Cameron Brown
, checks in as the No. 7 recruit in the state. Brett Gabbert
, the younger brother of former NFL first round pick Blaine Gabbert, is poised for a big-time junior season.
Nevada (2) Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
The Las Vegas power enters 2017 with the second-longest active high school football winning streak at 54. The Gaels have won eight consecutive state titles and have a chance to run the table again in 2017. Dorian Thompson-Robinson
replaces Tate Martell at quarterback and is the No. 3 rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class despite never making a start in his career. On defense, 5-star USC commit Palaie Gaoteote
should lead the way for one of the top defenses in the country.Liberty (Henderson)
Last season, Liberty showed there is more than just Bishop Gorman when it comes to football in Nevada. They rolled into Texas and beat Westlake (Austin) last September. They finished 12-2 with the only two losses coming to Southern California power Centennial and Bishop Gorman in the class 4A state championship game. Kenyon Oblad
returns for his senior season after throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 38 touchdowns last season.
New Jersey (5)Bergen Catholic (Oradell)
Bergen Catholic earned the top spot from New Jersey in our best team from each state article, but it really could have gone to any of the Jersey five. The North Jersey Super - United Red league is arguably the toughest in the country as it features all five teams in our top 100 preseason rankings. The Crusaders have three of the top 175 recruits in the 2019 class in 4-stars Antonio Alfano
, Rahmir Johnson
, and Josh McKenzie
. They are one of the toughest teams in all of high school football and it all starts with 3-star quarterback Johnny Langan
Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey)
It will be weird seeing a Don Bosco Prep football game and not see Greg Toal as the head coach. Former Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel takes over and he is the perfect man to replace Toal after 17 seasons. Don Bosco has some of the best players in all of Jersey, led by 4-star defensive tackle Tyler Friday
, the No. 2 overall recruit in the state. Paramus Catholic (Paramus)
Paramus Catholic won one of the toughest postseason brackets in the country (Non-Public Group 4) last season defeating St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City) in the championship game. Expect a strong rushing attack led by Jonathan Clark
, and one of the best defenses in the state, especially after 4-star defensive end Dorian Hardy
transferred over from the next team on our New Jersey list. St. Joseph Regional (Montvale)
The Green Knights won their last six games of 2016, including a 26-17 win over DePaul Catholic (Wayne) in the Non-Public Group 3 state championship game. Nick Patti
, a 2018 Pitt commit, is back at quarterback, Matt Alaimo
should be a big-time playmaker on offense and 3-star safety Evan Stewart
leads the way on defense.St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City)
St. Peter's Prep expects defense to be the ticket to New Jersey supremacy this season.
Photo by John Jones
The Marauders return a lot of key pieces from last year's squad that nearly won the Non-Public Group 4 championship, but fell 33-28 to Paramus Catholic. St. Peter's has two of the top 5 players in the state in the 2018 class with 4-stars Shayne Simon
and Jayson Ademilola
. Justin Ademilola
, RJ Oben
and Zamir Mickens
help fill out one of the most talented defenses in the country.
North Carolina (2) Dudley (Greensboro)
The Panthers finished last season as the No. 1 team in the state in our computer rankings after going 15-1 and winning the class 4A state championship game 54-0 against Cape Fear (Fayetteville). Since the start of the 2013 season, Dudley is 51-6 with two state championships. Expect Dudley to once again be contenders with 2018 Virginia Tech commit D.J. Crossen
and Reggie Robertson
leading the defense. Wake Forest
The Cougars are coming off a 16-0 season, capped with a 29-0 victory in the class 4AA state championship game against Page (Greensboro). Both of Wake Forest's top two rushers are back as Devon Lawrence
and Marquis Dunn
combined for nearly 3,000 yards rushing and 43 touchdowns last season.
Ohio (4)Colerain (Cincinnati)
Many thought last year's team was going to bring home the school's second-ever football state championship, but the St. Xavier upset the Cardinals in overtime in the regional semifinals. Colerain has won at least 10 games in six of the last seven seasons and has a good chance at another double-digit win year in 2017.
La Salle (Cincinnati)
For the third consecutive season, the Lancers won the Division II state championship. They finished 2016 on an 11-game winning streak and over the last three seasons are 40-5. Griffin Merritt
and Josh Whyle
will be one of the best quarterback/tight end combinations in the state. The defense returns three of the top four tacklers with Garrett Bledsoe
, Zach Rumpke
and Brody Ingle
St. Xavier (Cincinnati)
St. Xavier became the first Ohio team to win the state title with five losses. The roller-coaster ride for the Cincinnati power included four overtimes in five playoff games, with the Division 1 state championship game going to double overtime against St. Ignatius (Cleveland). The Bombers escaped with a 27-20 win to bring home the school's third state crown. Chase Wolf
, a 2018 Wisconsin commit, will be the starting quarterback next season after splitting time last year with Sean Clifford. The Bombers return their top two receivers in Cameron Specht
and Andrew Wittrock
. Blake Bacevich
, Bobby Jefferson
and Will Childs
all are back to help give St. Xavier one of the best defenses in all of Ohio. Wayne (Huber Heights)
Wayne was on the short list of teams that had a legit chance at winning the Division 1 state championship, but the Warriors were upset in the regional finals by Pickerington Central (Pickerington). Four-star wide receiver L'Christian Smith
and 3-star Kentucky commit Alex Reigelsperger
are both back and look to lead Wayne to something it's never done — win a football state championship.
Oklahoma (2)Norman North
The Timberwolves were one game from finishing 2016 a perfect 13-0, but they feel short against Union (Tulsa, Okla.) in the class 6A-I state championship game. First team MaxPreps Junior All-American Drake Stoops
returns after hauling in 86 catches for 1,536 yards and 20 touchdowns. The son of former Oklahoma Sooner head coach Bob Stoops will again be one of the best offensive players in the state in 2017.
Union won its eighth state title last season and first since 2011 with a 57-43 win over Norman North. The Tulsa power avenged its two losses when it mattered most, beating Jenks (Okla.) and Norman North in the semifinals and state championship game. When it comes to talent, Union matches up with anyone in the state as 4-star Oklahoma State commit CJ Moore
, and 3-star Oklahoma commits Jordan Kelley
and Patrick Fields
give the Redskins three of the top 11 recruits in the state.
Graphic by SocialRecluse Graphx
Pennsylvania (4)Archbishop Wood (Warminster)
The Vikings enter 2017 with seven consecutive double-digit win seasons and have won four state titles during that span. They beat Harrisburg in last season's class 5A state championship game and have a good chance to repeat.
Central Catholic (Pittsburgh)
Central Catholic finished 14-2 last season with its only two losses coming to D.C. power St. John's and then Philly power St. Joseph's Prep in the class 6A state championship game. Despite losing a couple key pieces in the trenches, the Vikings quarterback Troy Fisher
, 3-star defensive end David Green
and Khalil Weathers
Pine-Richland was dealt a huge blow last year early in the season when 4-star quarterback Philip Jurkovec
suffered a season-ending thumb injury. The Rams should be one of the top teams in the state in 2017 with a healthy Jurkovec, a 2018 Notre Dame commit who is the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback, No. 64 overall recruit, and No. 2 player in Pennsylvania in his class. St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia)
The Philadelphia power finished No. 12 in last year's final Xcellent 25 rankings after going 14-0. Even though 5-star running D'Andre Swift is now at Georgia, the Hawks return some big-time pieces including quarterback Marquez McCray
, Virginia Tech commit Darryle Simmons
, 3-star defensive tackle Ryan Bryce
, and 2020 running back Kolbe Burrell
could end up being a special player during his sophomore season.
South Carolina (3)Dutch Fork (Irmo)
Dutch Fork capped its 15-0 season with a class 5A state title. The No. 7 recruit in the state, Bryce Thompson
, decided to come back to Dutch Fork for his senior season, and a name to keep tabs on is Ron Hoff
, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns during his freshman campaign.
Fort Dorchester (North Charleston)
The Patriots had Dutch Fork end their season in the class 5A semifinals, but expect them to again be in the hunt. Fort Dorchester should have one of the best offenses in the state, led by 4-star quarterback Dakereon Joyner
and 3-star wide receiver Justin Williams
.South Pointe (Rock Hill)
South Pointe capped off an impressive 2016 season with 11 straight wins, including a 51-28 win over Hartsville (S.C.) in the class 4A state championship game. The Stallions finished as the No. 20 team in our final Xcellent 25 rankings. The No. 1 player in the state, 4-star Clemson commit Derion Kendrick
, is poised for a monster senior season.
Tennessee (2)Brentwood Academy (Brentwood)
Brentwood Academy brought home state title No. 12 last season in an instant classic after beating Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville) for the second consecutive year in the Division II class AA state championship game. With Camron Johnson
, Gavin Schoenwald
, Jackson Sirmon
and Daniel Taylor
all back the Eagles should have a good chance to make it three in a row in 2017.
Whitehaven finished right under Brentwood Academy for the No. 1 spot in the state rankings after a 15-0 season and a division 1 class 6A state championship. They return some talent from last season's team, including Rayshad Williams
, C.J. Biggins
, Bryson Eason
and Vincent Guy
Aledo stretched its 11-win season streak to 11 and finished 16-0 for the third time since 2010 after beating Calallen (Corpus Christi) in the class 5A D2 state championship. It was the Texas power's sixth state title since 2009. Jase McClellan
, the 2016 MaxPreps Freshman of the Year, is due for an even bigger sophomore campaign after rushing for nearly 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016. nAllen
Allen hasn't lost two games in any season since 2010 and the Eagles haven't lost during the regular season since 2012. For the fifth consecutive year, Allen made the UIL Texas state semifinals, but hope to do something it hasn't since 2014 — bring home a state title. The Eagles will be one of the best teams in the state and expect a big season for 2019 quarterback prospect Grant Tisdale
. Brock Sturges
, Theo Wease
and Carson Schleker
should all be big-time playmakers for Terry Gambill in his second season as head coach.Cedar Hill
Even with former head coach Joey McGuire leaving for Baylor, the Longhorns will still be one of the more talented teams from the Lone Star state. Former Cedar Hill defensive coordinator Carlos Lynn is back after a nine-year run as head coach at Seguin (Arlington) and will be the new man in charge for the Longhorns. Shayne Lawrence
is in line to be the new quarterback, Cameron Fleming
and Joshua Fleeks
will be one of the most explosive rushing duos in the state, and Shabazz Dotson
will be the leader on defense. DeSoto
Gemon and German Green are back to guard their Texas 6A Division II title.
Photo by Alik McIntosh
The DeSoto Eagles won the school's first football state championship last year and finished 2016 as the No. 2 team in our final Xcellent 25 rankings after going 16-0. They lost some key pieces from last year's 6A D2 UIL title team, including the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year Shawn Robinson, but expect Courtney Douglas
to ball out in 2017. Bryon Hanspard
, Kelan Walker
and twin 2018 Michigan commits, Gemon Green
and German Green
, help fill out one of the most talented teams in Texas.Katy
The Katy Tigers have won at least 10 games every season for the last 15 years and their eight state titles is tied for the most in Texas high school football history. Rodney Anderson and Kyle Porter were two of the best running backs to come through the Katy program, but don't be surprised if rising junior Deondrick Glass
passes them as the best back in school history.
Klein Collins (Spring)
Klein Collins lost two games last season — both winnable games for the Tigers. They lost in double overtime to Katy and blew a 28-14 halftime lead against DeSoto in the 6A D2 UIL Texas state semifinals. Isaiah Spiller
, Josh Powell
, AJ Bennett
and Donavan Mutin
all are back and expected to play big roles in 2017. Lake Travis (Austin)
Lake Travis was one of the hottest teams in high school football at the end of last season. The Cavaliers won their final 15 games, including a 41-6 victory over The Woodlands in the 6A D1 UIL Texas state championship. They lost a lot of key players to graduation, but Hank Carter always has his boys ready to play. Lake Travis is 91-10 with three state titles since Carter was named head coach in 2010. Lamar (Houston)
The boys from Houston will be one of the most talented teams in the state this season. The Texans have three of the top 16 recruits in the state and the No. 1 overall player in all of Texas in 5-star cornerback Anthony Cook
. Look to 4-star wide receiver Al'vonte Woodard
, 4-star defensive back D'shawn Jamison
and 3-star running back Ta'zhawn Henry
help fill out one of the best rosters in the country. Manvel
Manvel was one win from advancing to the 5A D1 UIL Texas state semifinals, but lost 24-23 to Temple. The Mavericks still will be one of the favorites to win it all this year as they are loaded with talent. Manvel is led by 4-star wide receiver Jalen Preston
, starting quarterback Kason Martin
, and throw in 3-star wide receiver Kam Scott
, 2018 Penn State commit Trent Gordon
and DePriest Taylor
Denton Ryan was close to winning a state title last season, but lost to the eventual champs Highland Park (Dallas) in the 5A D1 UIL Texas state semifinals. The Raiders will be led by 4-star quarterback Spencer Sanders
, and 2018 Texas Tech commit Gabriel Dougals. Jordan Rucker
, Chritauskie Dove
, and Dayton Leblanc
all are back this season. Steele (Cibolo)
Cibolo Steele fell short against DeSoto in the 6A D2 UIL Texas state championship game. Despite losing quarterback Xavier Martin to the next level, The Knights return some big-time players led by 2018 Texas commit Caden Sterns
and last season's leading rusher Brenden Brady
, who rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. West Orange-Stark (Orange)
You could make a strong case that West Orange-Stark had the best defense in the state last season. They posted seven shutouts and allowed more than seven points in two games. The Mustangs repeated as 4A D2 UIL Texas state champions after a 16-0 campaign. Since 2011, they won at least 10 games in every season and are 78-11 during that span.
Utah (2)Bingham (South Jordan)
Bingham's only loss last season came to Florida power St. Thomas Aquinas in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series. Outside of that, the Utah power won 14 games, including the class 5A state title. The Miners have won at least 10 games in every season except one since 2005 and they have gone 26-3 since John Lambourne took over two years ago when Dave Beck retired. Bingham and East will get to show who is best in the state when they face off in late August.East (Salt Lake City)
East has dominated Utah and will run behind a stellar offensive line again in 2017.
Photo by Steve Carnahan
The boys from Salt Lake City enter this season winners of 23 straight with back-to-back class 4A state championships. The Leopards lost Jaylen Warren, one of the best running backs in state history, but should be just as explosive running the ball in 2017 behind one of the best offensive lines in the country led by Junior Angilau
and Sam Vakalahi
Virginia (1)Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach)
Chris Scott is starting to build something special at Bishop Sullivan, just like he did at Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach). Outside of Corona Centennial, the Crusaders were the one school who actually gave IMG Academy major problems in a 16-6 loss. Bishop Sullivan has two of the most talented players in the state in 2018 Ohio State commit Teradja Mitchell
, the No. 2 inside linebacker in the country, and 2018 Maryland commit Tyler Desue
who won a state title with Scott during his freshman season at Ocean Lakes. Also expect a big season from Tayvion Land
, one of the best recruits in the 2019 class.