BENSALEM, Pa. – Welcome back, it’s great to hear the pads popping and the band adding the soundtrack. If it’s August that means another high school football is ready to be ushered in.
Having said that the Blue Star Media Elite 25 preseason football rankings here and Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) is the top-ranked team. Twelve or nearly half of the Elite 25 are from the Southland Region.
For the second straight year, Texas contributes five selections; Florida and California add four apiece; while three schools represent New Jersey—all from the same league (New Jersey Super Football League United Red Division).
And so buckle up that chinstrap and sit back as the season unfolds and the Super 25 rankings shift each week especially with so many ranked teams playing must-see games in the opening four weekends.
Okay, the Elite 25 rankings will appear on Sept. 5 and continue until the conclusion of the postseason in late December. For the most part, high school season kicks off this weekend.
Football is truly the All-American sport and best of all, we all have a high school team in our backyard. Get out to a game this weekend or whenever the locals open. Hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor
Blue Star Media Elite 25 Preseason Football Rankings August 10, 2017
1. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas (15-0)
The Rub: The major question surrounds dual threat QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA pledge), if he produces, the defending Elite 25 National Champions will stay unbeaten. The Gaels feature LB Palaie Gaoteote (USC), TE Brevin Jordan (Miami), OL Jacob Isala (6-foot-3, 275 pounds), DE Adam Plant (Arizona), LB Brandon Kaho (BYU), WR Jaden Mitchell (Arizona) and WR Jalen Nailor (Arizona State). Junior RB Amod Cianelli (813 yards, 5 touchdowns) will see the majority of the carries. At 6-8, 230 pounds, junior DE Noah Kaumatula (from Honolulu) is a high-profile transfer. The Gaels open the season with four quality games, including three against nationally ranked opponents. Over Labor Day Weekend, they visit No. 3 Mater Dei in a game that will go a long way in determining the national champion. If coach Kenny Sanchez’s team survives that stretch, there’s no stopping them from running the table in Nevada.
Opens: Aug. 25 vs. No. 13 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.).
2. St. John Bosco, Bellflower, Calif. (14-1)
The Rub: The Braves play a loaded road schedule but have talent aplenty to pull it off. The opening game is must-see TV as southern California squad is primed to repeat as CIF Open Division Southern Section (Division 1) champions. The roster is chock full of high FBS pledges, including S Jaiden Woodbey (Ohio State), QB Re-al Mitchell (Iowa State) and DB Stephan Blaylock (UCLA). More will follow. The high-powered offense features sophomore backup QB DJ Uiagalelei, who will see reps under center, and RB Demetrious Flowers with Pac-12 offers.
Opens: Aug. 25 at No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) on ESPN.
3. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif. (13-1)
The Rub: The Monarchs are in great position to ascend the Elite 25 rankings as they play the two teams ranked ahead of them. With 10 returning offensive starters, winning out is possible, but beating No. 1 Gorman and Trinity League rivals No. 2 St. John Bosco (probably twice) is mandatory. Highly-touted QB JT Daniels (4,849 yards, 67 TDs passes, USC commit) has productive receivers in Amon-Ra St. Brown (21 TD receptions), CJ Parks (9 TDs, USC commit) and Nikko Remigio (7 TDs, California commit). Jack Genova and Solomon Tuliaupupu lead the linebacking corps. A treacherous schedule includes a home game on Sept. 1 against Gorman but tricky East Coast road game at No. 15 Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) could spoil things the dreams of grandeur.
Opens: Aug. 25 at Bishop Amat (La Puente).
4. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (11-0)
The Rub: The Florida school is better known as Transfer Central. Players nationwide flock to the football crucible and this year is no different. The defense features DE Xavier Thomas (Clemson pledge), LB Mike Jones (Clemson), DT Taron Vincent (Ohio State), DT TK Chimedza (Georgia Tech) and junior DT Nolan Smith II (Georgia). The Ascenders’ offense starts with Miami-bound WR Brian Hightower and juniors Trey Sanders (Alabama) and Noah Cain at running back, but the QB battle is between Art Sitkowski (Miami) and Zack Annexstad. The Ascenders play a national schedule with games against teams from seven state and the District of Columbia but do not compete for a state championship. Big drawback.
Opens: Aug. 26 at No. 8 Chandler (Ariz.).
5. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (13-2)
The Rub: If the Raiders want to make it four straight Class 7A state titles, a loaded defense needs to step up. The secondary features Asante Samuel (Florida State recruit), Adetutu Daranijo, Al Blades Jr. (Miami) and Trenell Troutman (Louisville). WRs Tavares Kelly (Virginia) and Elijah Moore and junior RB Daniel Carter are the main threats with the ball. The opening night’s result will truly shake the Elite 25.
Opens: Aug. 25 vs. No. 2 St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.).
6. Allen, Texas (14-1)
The Rub: The Eagles landed in the Class 6A, Division 1 semifinals under coach Terry Gambill and with nine starters back they may go further. Brock Sturges (1,124 yards, 13TDs) is the primary ball carrier and OT Trey Stratford (6-4, 270) is the hulk blocker. Jevon Jones and Celdon Manning are lockdown corners.
Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Cedar Hill.
7. Grayson, Loganville, Ga. (13-1)
The Rub: It was an exciting ending to the 2016 season as the Rams snagged the Class AAAAAAA crown on a last-second field goal. More excitement is expected this fall as coach Christian Hunnicutt takes over for Jeff Herron. The Rams are loaded in the Class of 2019. LB Owen Pappoe (6-1, 210) is considered one of the nation’s top juniors. RB Ronald Thompkins Jr., OL Wayne Morris (6-5, 275), DL Tru Thompson (6-0, 330), S Kenyatta Watson II (6-2, 180) are a from the same class and committed to Florida State. Pappoe is expected to do the same.
Opens: Aug. 25 at No. 24 Hoover (Ala.).
8. Chandler, Ariz. (13-2)
The Rub: Recruiters are flocking to the East Valley for the last two decades as Chandler and Hamilton (Chandler) have churned out power teams stocked with blue-chip prospects. Once again Arizona’s 6A state title goes through the Phoenix area and junior QB Jacob Conover, who passed for 3,715 yards and 32 scores on 215 of 308 accuracy (69.8%), and hook up with Gunner Romney (9 TDs) and Jarick Caldwell (4 TDs). DE Brayden Flynn (Naval Academy), DT Chris Manoa (UNLV), DB Bryce Jackson (UNLV) and K/P Cash Peterson (Brigham Young) are off to FBS programs. Chandler’s Class of 2020 is shaping up to be special.
Opens: Aug. 18 vs. Red Mountain (Mesa).
9. Corona (Calif.) Centennial (11-2)
The Rub: The offense goes through long, pro-style QB Tanner McKee (6-6, 220), who threw for 3,522 yards and 36 TDs and ran for 15 more scores. That exciting brand of football will also feature Nebraska-bound WR Manuel Allen and electrifying sophomore Gary Bryant. LB Cameron Pitcher Jr. is leader of the defense. A rematch with No. 4 IMG Academy on Sept. 2 is massive as the Wolves look to avenge a 50-49 shootout loss in overtime.
Opens: Aug. 25 vs. Pittsburg.
10. St. Joseph Regional, Montvale, N.J. (9-2)
The Rub: QB Nick Patti (Pittsburgh) is an underrated pocket passer but he guided his team to an 18th state title last December. TE Matt Alaimo (6-4, 240) is his main target. The schedule can easily be tabbed “Murder’s Row” for the lethal league (North Jersey Super Football League United Red Division) and nonleague opponents and the Green Knights will be challenged to stay perfect. The opener is particularly tricky and then it’s off to regionally ranked St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) a week later.
Opens: Sept. 2 vs. Deerfield Beach (Fla.).
11. Katy, Texas (10-3)
The Rub: The Tigers love to pound the rock and this year that’s possible with RBs Deondrick Glass (1,912 yards, 30 TDs) and Josh Oglesby (921 yards, 11 scores) with OT Connor Galvin (6-6, 255) and C Evan Greathouse paving the way. DE Michael Matus (6-1, 240) is defensive force and K/P Seth Small is a special teams weapon.
Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Westlake (Austin).
12. Poly, Long Beach, Calif. (7-4)
The Rub: The Jackrabbits enter the Elite 25 on the strength of the pro-style QB Matt Corral, who transferred in and has committed to Florida. Coach Antonio Pierce, a Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, will have plenty of offense weapons, including USC-bound TE Camren McDonald and WR Jalen Hall. DB Aashari Croswell is a another impactful transfer from Hawkins (Los Angeles).
Opens: Aug. 25 vs. Los Alamitos.
13. DeMatha, Hyattsville, Md. (12-0)
The Rub: After annexing their fourth consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, the Stags will have battle for a fifth. The league is top heavy with Gonzaga, St. John’s College and Good Counsel—opponents the Stags see on three successive weekends in October. OF Evan Gregory and DT Austin Fontaine are both committed to nearby Maryland and DE John Morgan (6-2, 250) is headed to Pittsburgh.
Opens: Aug. 25 at No. 1 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
14. Hoover, Ala. (12-2)
The Rub: The Bucs won a fourth state championship (Class 7A) in the last five seasons and will have the talents of WR Shedrick Jackson (6-2, 200) who is off to Auburn where his uncle (Bo Jackson) won the Heisman Trophy. OG Mike Maye (6-3, 185) verballed to Georgia Tech and RB Vonté Brackett will handle his fair share of carries. Junior LB Nick Curtis (6-5, 210) is earning high praise from scouting services.
Opens: Aug. 25 at No. 7 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.).
15. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (7-4)
The Rub: Boston College-bound QB Johnny Langan is leader and RB Rahmir Johnson is the workhorse. LB Javontae Jean-Baptiste (6-5, 200) is a freakish athlete and junior DT Aeneas DiCosimo (6-3, 220) is already stockpiling the FBS offers. Other than a killer league schedule, the Crusaders host California power No. 3 Mater Dei (Santa Ana), who may be the top-ranked by the Sept. 16 encounter.
Opens: Sept. 2 vs. De Paul Catholic (Wayne).
16. Carol City, Miami Gardens, Fla. (10-3)
The Rub: The defending Class 6A champions are blessed with a stacked backfield with QB Marlon Smith and RBs Cam’ron Davis (Miami recruit) and Legend Moore (Northern Illinois). New head coach Benedict Hyppolite will depend on Louisville-bound LB Yasir Abdullah (12 sacks) and DB Randy Russell on defense.
Opens: Aug. 25 vs. Deerfield Beach.
17. Converse (Texas) Judson (9-3)
The Rub: The Rockets return 16 starts, with nine on defense and eight juniors. QB Julon Jones totaled offensive 2,200 yards and 26 TDs and RB Sincerer McCormick (6-3 rushing yards, 11 TDs) are the offensive threats. LB Brady Stoepler (106 tackles) and DE Demarvin Leal (10 sacks) are defensive stalwarts.
Opens: Sept. 1 vs. No. 20 Lake Travis.
18. Cass Tech, Detroit (14-0)
The Rub: The defending Division 1 champions are back and ready for another title run. DB Kalon Gervin, LB DeAndre Square (Kentucky) and LB Ramani Williams spearhead the defense. Replacing QB Rodney Hall is a task but Aaron Jackson gets the nod. The Technicians will get better as the season progresses.
Opens: Aug. 25 at Pickerington (Ohio) Central.
19. John Curtis Christian, River Ridge, La. (11-1)
The Rub: To make a run at the Division I state crown, the Patriots will lean on QB Collin Guggenheim, RBs Darryan Washington and Marquese Albert and WRs Tyrone Leggette and Glenn Beal. DB Brandon Davis is the main defender. A ballyhooed matchup with No. 7 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) is set for Sept. 9 at the Battle on the Border in Shreveport, La.
Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Landry-Walker (New Orleans).
20. Lake Travis, Texas (15-1)
The Rub: The Cavaliers won the Class 6A, Division 1 title, peeling off 15 straights win after an opening night loss. This season the schedule front loaded with Converse Judson and Cibolo Steele but least QB Matthew Baldwin (6-3, 195) has junior WR Garrett Wilson (50 receptions, 599 yards, 12 TDs).
Opens: Sept. 1 at No. 17 Converse Judson.
21. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (8-4)
The Rub: Notre Dame-bound twins Jayson and Justin Ademilola combined for 23 sacks and 169 tackles a year ago and will be joined in South Bend by S Shayne Simon. S Zamir Mickens is committed to Rutgers. The Marauders face Elite 25 teams such as Bergen Catholic, St. Joseph Regional and Don Bosco Prep —all league games. Phew!
Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Union City.
22. East, Salt Lake City, Utah (14-0)
The Rub: The O-line is fortified with behemoths Paul Malle (6-3, 275), Sione Angilau Jr. (6-6, 300) and Sam Taimani (6-3, 310) and that’s a good thing for smallish RB Sione Molisi, who rushed for over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs as a junior.
Opens: Aug. 17 at Timpview (Provo)
23. American Heritage, Plantation, Fla. (14-0)
The Rub: The defending Class 5A champions are loaded on defense with DE Andrew Chatfield (Ohio State) and DT Nesta Silvera (Miami) up front and a pair of long, athletes Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell in the secondary.
Opens: Aug. 26 at Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.).
24. DeSoto, Texas (16-0)
The Rub: With six returning defensive starters back, the Eagles will be hard pressed to repeat in Class 6A, Division 2—the program’s first state title. The secondary features Byron Hanspard Jr., Gemon Green and Michael Gardner and the primary offensive threat is RB Kelan Walker (839 yards, 16 TDs). The District 7-6A title will likely be decided on Sept. 29 when Cedar Hill comes to town.
Opens: Sept. 1 at Jesuit (Dallas).
25. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia (14-0)
The Rub: The Hawks have won three of the four large-school state titles, including last year’s Class AAAAAA. The pitch-and-catch combo of QB Marquez McCray and WR Darryle Simmons (Virginia Tech) is formidable. The first three games include No. 21 St. Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) and league rivals Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.).
Opens: Sept. 1 vs. Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit.
High-Fives by Region
- St. John’s College, Washington, D.C. (8-4)
- Archbishop Wood, Warminster, Pa. (11-2)
- Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, N.J. (6-5)
- Pine-Richland, Gibsonia, Pa. (7-5)
- Wise, Upper Marlboro, Md. (14-0)
Geography: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
- St. Xavier, Cincinnati (10-5)
- Ben Davis, Indianapolis (9-4)
- Christian Brothers College, St. Louis (11-2)
- Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Ill. (13-1)
- Kimberly, Wis. (14-0)
Geography: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Central, Miami (6-2)
- Booker T. Washington, Miami (10-4)
- South Pointe, Rock Hill, S.C. (14-1)
- West Point, Miss. (14-1)
- Trinity, Louisville (15-0)
Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (11-2)
- Narbonne, Harbor City, Calif. (14-1)
- Kahuku, Hawaii (13-0)
- Jesuit, Portland, Ore. (11-1)
- Liberty, Henderson, Nev. (12-2)
Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
About: The Blue Star Media Elite 25 High School Football Rankings are released weekly from September until the conclusion of the high school season. Criteria considered are the quality of the team and its players, strength of schedule, tradition, and quality of the team’s league, conference, region or district. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers. The final rankings will be released in late December. Follow him on Twitter at #clawlor.