Pre-Preseason Top 25 Watch List

Late March may feel like too soon to release an initial watch list for the upcoming season — and maybe it is — but there are enough known factors to put together an interesting, albeit early, Pre-Preseason Top 25.

The HSFB100 Preseason release schedule will follow the normal pattern of seeing the spring camp circuit and the summer 7 on 7 sessions before the official countdown starts at the end of July but it is all but a lock that these teams will make an appearance in the upper half.

An initial Top 10 has a decidedly West Coast feel as five of the Top 10 teams are in the Pacific Time Zone with the top two positions being Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV) and De La Salle (Concord, CA).

Traditional powers Katy (Texas) and Centennial (Corona, CA) with emerging flagship Miami Central (FL) all take spots in the Top 5.

While each has questions that need answered most bring back the bulk of a talented team that found success in 2014.

Read more about the early No. 1 team, Bishop Gorman.



2014 RANK


Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV) No. 3 15-0
Bishop Gorman starts the year in the driver’s seat but will be tested with a schedule that has it playing Bellevue (WA), Bingham (UT), Chandler (AZ), Don Bosco (Ramsey, NJ), and Servite (Anaheim, CA), among others. Tate Martell will be asked to lead the team back to the top of the polls as the team replaces talent at the skill positions but always finds a way to reload.

De La Salle (Concord, CA) No. 2 14-0
The Spartans could be the actual Preseason No. 1 team if quarterback Anthony Sweeney is healthy. It returns both of its top rushers and enough talent on the defensive side of the ball to justify another lofty ranking. The Spartans will play a couple of quality non-NorCal opponents on the schedule that will test its mettle throughout the season. A national title could return for the first time since 2003 if the team stays healthy.

Miami Central (Miami, FL) No. 13 14-1
Central reloaded with a healthy amount of move-in players that our early guess went from low- or mid-30s to Top 10. The Rockets will take on DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD) on Labor Day Weekend in a game likely to be featured on ESPN for the country to see. Since breaking through with its first state title in 2010 the team has not looked back and has become one of the top programs nationally.

Katy (Katy, TX) No. 14 14-2
Katy could have three players make the all-state team in Texas this season and for a team that is exceptionally well-coached adding in that kind of talent could push for Texas having back-to-back National Title winners. The Tigers return leading rusher, passer, receiver as well as half of its defense. The schedule will not test the team until the playoffs when it will likely see Manvel (TX) and Steele (Cibolo, TX) prior to the state finals, likely against a Dallas-Fort Worth representative, but it may be enough to show this is the best team in the country.

Centennial (Corona, CA) No. 16 12-3
There will be a debate as to which team should be the No. 1 in SoCal entering the year between Centennial and St. John Bosco as both return loaded teams that met in the Pac-5 finals in 2014. Centennial gets the early edge with the result of that game but either one could be a preseason Top 5 team with talent moving into the senior class combined with what is coming up behind them.

DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD) NR 9-3
Pretty stunning that a team that finished unranked in 2014 could potentially start inside the Top 10 but the talent coming back for DeMatha is hard to ignore. The Stags have three players already committed and likely another six seniors that will be signing with major programs. It has a challenging schedule and could push for a national title with an unbeaten season.

DeSoto (Desoto, TX) No. 20 10-2
DeSoto will bring back one of the most explosive offenses in the country next year and if healthy it could make the Eagles the favorite to win a state title that has alluded the program during its rise. It will have to replace coach Claude Mathis but Todd Peterson is likely to keep the formula familiar. Quarterback Tristan Wallace will have Jaylin Nelson, K.D. Nixon, La’Darren Brown, Kairi Muhammad, among others, at his disposal. The defense will have to do its part at some point but after Allen won with offense and timely defense there is hope that DeSoto can get over the hump.

St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA) No. 19 12-2
The skill players at St. John Bosco are growing on countless with Sean McGrew, DJ Morgan, Jared Harrell being three of the best in the state. The junior class is equally interesting with Keith Taylor and Kristian Taylor starting to get looks for the next level. The team will have to replace quarterback Josh Rosen and there could be a battle between an underclassmen and a rising senior to take his spot but a strong offensive line figures to protect whomever is back there. The Braves are stacked and may be the best team in SoCal.

Archer (Lawrenceville, GA) No. 41 11-4
Archer rebounded from a slow start in 2014 to make the state finals — and nearly won. The team brings back almost its entire defense with seniors Kobe Smith, Donta Evans, and Dylan Singleton getting plenty of attention at the next level. Archer has become a quick force to be reckoned with in Georgia and its offense is usually the focal point but right now it is the question as it will have to replace its quarterback.

Bingham (South Jordan, UT) No. 18 13-2
Bingham is the third team in the top half of this list that is replacing its coach, joining Bishop Gorman and DeSoto. There is genuine optimism that this could be one of the best teams that the Miners have produced in recent years and that will say a lot come game time. The rich got richer as Louisville commitment Keaton Toree moved into the program and bolstered the quarterback position.

Spartanburg (Spartanburg, SC) No. 78 11-3
The Vikings got healthy and went on to win a state title last season — a year earlier than many projected. This season has been circled as a breakout opportunity with the talent coming back to play for coach Chris Miller. Spartanburg will be paced by running back Tavien Feaster — who may be one of the most explosive players on the East Coast. Quarterback Austin Scott needs to be a steady hand and protect the ball while underrated defended Mike Murphy will continue to patrol the secondary and make plays.

Steele (Cibolo, TX) No. 42 13-2
Steele was the best team in San Antonio last year and competed well in games versus DeSoto and Katy but fell to both. The Knights bring back a lot of talented players this year and will feature Mark Jackson on the defensive line alongside Quincy Williams and Josh Croslen. The offensive line has four players that know their role entering the year and if Xavier Martin develops at quarterback it will be a solid season for this team.

Chandler (Chandler, AZ) No. 7 13-1
Chandler won its first state title last season and could be considered a heavy favorite to repeat. The Wolves bring back a lot of the key players to its team from last year and after the defense started clicking the program went to a different level. Much of the attention will be on how the quarterback position performs as three-year starter Bryce Perkins is replaced by Mason Moran. Moran already has offers from Boston College, Colorado and UMass, making many believe the drop off may be negligible.

Jenks (Jenks, OK) No. 49 11-2
Jenks avenged its two losses from last regular season in the playoffs and claimed another state title. The annual battle between Union and Jenks may be shifted towards Jenks with the team having won three straight titles. This year figures to be the same two teams but the Trojans are returning 13 of 22 starters from last year and figure to have its best team in a couple of years.

South Panola (Batesville, MS) No. 22 14-0
South Panola had gone from the top of the mountain, winning the 2010 HSFB100 National title, to not making the final poll the next three seasons. The Tigers broke through with an undefeated season last year in a very good Mississippi state playoffs. The team is expected to stay on that level this year and will begin the year near to where it left off.

Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC) No. 57 15-1
The Mavericks will be returning more players than it has in any year since the school opened. Mallard Creek will be lead by its defense and Josh Brown on the defensive line. North Carolina has produced quality teams in recent years with Butler and Mallard Creek taking to the Top 25 of the HSFB100 multiple times. The initial placement could slide for Mallard Creek but it will be a lock for a spot in the preseason.

Allen (Allen, TX) No. 1 16-0
A season after winning the national title, Allen isn’t dropping too far from the pace it has set. The Eagles return seven defensive starters as well as two other players that saw significant time. The offensive line is still solid but the biggest boost the team got was with the move-in of four-star quarterback Seth Green to fill the void left by Kyler Murray. Murray was the Offensive Player of the Year last season and so Green certainly has large shoe’s to fill but the Oregon commit is actually more of a prototypical sized quarterback and could keep Allen at the top of the national rankings.

St. Ignatius (Cleveland, OH) NR 7-5
An early stretch pick for the Ohio Division I champion is St. Ignatius. The team has dropped from 13-wins in 2011 down to 11, 8, and 7 over the last three years so this is a leap of faith. A lot of the roster returns from last year and that may be good or bad depending on how one views the results.

Good Counsel (Olney, MD) NR 10-2
The clash between DeMatha and Good Counsel could have as much talent on the field as any contest in the country this year. The Falcons will be bringing back the majority of its starters on both side of the ball and the expectations could be pushing 2011 standards. Defensively the group will have stars at all levels with Izon Pulley, Keandre Jones, and Travon Scott leading the lineman, backers, and secondary.

Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, VA) No. 37 14-0
The defensive side of the ball for the Dolphins will be impressive next season with Levonta Taylor, Jermaine Trotman, Anthony Womack returning as seniors. Talented prospects Khalan Laborn and Eric Crosby join Justin Smith on the offensive side. The lone concern is that, like Spartanburg, the team won a year earlier than most expected and now the target is on their back.

Colerain (Cincinnati, OH) NR 8-4
To show how volatile Ohio is the top two teams we see entering the season were a combined 15-9 last year. Colerain was extremely young last year and a little banged up but improved as the season went on to be a legit threat in the playoffs. This year the hope is that the defensive line is improved enough that the Cardinals can represent one side of the bracket in the state finals.

La Salle (Cincinnati, OH) 7 / 7 No. 2, (twice)
Following the theme of teams winning a year before they are expected to, La Salle will be the favorite to win Division II again but repeating has proven harder than winning the first title. The Lancers will ride Jeremy Larkin again this season and could work its way to being the best team in Ohio.

Paramus Catholic (Paramus, NJ) No. 32 9-2
The Paladins will start atop the New Jersey state rankings and that placement has become one worthy of Preseason Top 25 respect. Paramus Catholic lost its coach to Michigan and several talent players to graduation. It features defensive tackle Rashaun Gary and several talented teammates. It will need to find a replacement to quarterback Willy Hansen.

Booker T. Washington (Miami, FL) No. 10 15-0
Outside of losing head coach Tim Harris, Jr and the normal list of graduated players it has been a relatively quiet offseason for the 2013 HSFB100 National Champions. The transfer season was somewhat uneventful for the Tornadoes, too. It is hard to predict how the team will be entering 2015 and it may not stick on the No. 2 spot in the state but it has earned the benefit of the doubt at this point in the offseason.

Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, AL) No. 24 15-0
The debate between Hoover and Clay-Chalkville being the top team in Alabama raged most of the 2014 season and wasn’t ultimately decided until Clay-Chalkville lost its running back due to injury. This year it should be no such argument as Hoover graduates a lot while the Cougars return offensive firepower that will make it the favorite to repeat in Class 6A.

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