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July 26, 2011

RivalsHigh 100 Countdown: Nos. 90-86

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

RivalsHigh.com began its 2011 countdown on Monday, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.

We are starting at No. 100 and will release two groups of five teams per day. Then, we'll do a daily countdown from No. 10 to No. 1. Our top team will be unveiled on Wednesday, Aug. 10 - nine days from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Sept. 5 for the next rankings, then have them every Monday during the season.

The team rankings were compiled by high school sports senior analyst Dallas Jackson, the Rivals AMP team, football recruiting analysts and the entire RivalsHigh network of publishers.

Final 2010 RivalsHigh 100 Rankings | Post your thoughts about teams 90-86

Top 100 countdown
No. 90 Everett, Massachussetts

COACH: John DiBiaso
LAST SEASON: 12-0, won Massachusetts Division I Super Bowl
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 100 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the team's secondary comes together. The obvious answer would be to see how the team replaces two college bound players - Manuel Asprilla (Boston College) and Matt Costello (Princeton) - but Everett should be able to replace them on offense. The secondary, though, will lose three starters and will be hard pressed to replace them. The good news is that the teams in Massachusetts that could exploit those losses are not on the Crimson Tide schedule. However, being a team from a non-power state, maintaining its spot in the rankings will depend a lot on how the games are won, not just that they are.

STRENGTH: For a New England team, most would overlook the offense, but this team has as explosive of one as any. Last year, quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, the coach's son, set a single-season state record for touchdown passes with 43 in 12 games. The offensive line returns some serious size, averaging 275 across the board. And the running backs maneuver well out of the spread attack. The team was held under 30 points only three times in 2010 and a similar output can be expected.

STAR OF THE SHOW: There are really three players that stand out on this Everett team - linebacker Vondell Langston, junior left tackle John Montelus, and quarterback DiBiaso. The star of the team is probably DiBiaso, although the other two could end up with better Division I offers. DiBiaso is a high-IQ kid both on the field and in the classroom and he will likely end up in the Ivy League - but that doesn't mean he isn't Division I ready. His touch on downfield passes, especially in late season winter wind, were spot on last year and he has good mid-range arm strength.

HOLDING THEMSELVES BACK? When Brockton High was at its height in the 1980s and early 90s, it went out of its way to schedule out-of-state opponents to measure itself. This year, rival Boston College High has done the same. Everett has lingered back. Making matters worse, the team was reclassified to Division 1A instead of Division 1 like it was last year, hurting its schedule. If it isn't very convincing in its games with Boston College High and Xaverian Brothers, its measure in state and out will come into question.

Top 100 countdown
No. 89 Skyline, Washington

COACH: Matt Taylor
LAST SEASON: 12-2
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 2 in Washington

KEEP AN EYE ON: Who steps up at receiver for the Spartans. Gone are Jordan Simone and Rivals100 member Kasen Williams. The Skyline offense has long revolved around throwing the ball and losing the talent that the team did from the outside could be tough to replace.

STRENGTH: The system that is run at Skyline is taught from the youth level up so the kids who get into the varsity level have been playing the same brand of football for a number of years. That is very helpful for a team that is not loaded with players. Skyline is a team that is usually barely inside the Class 4A dividing line and one of the smaller schools in the classification. This year, the system could be the strength as the front line players are not there.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Max Browne has been fairly or unfairly tagged as "The Next Jake Heaps" since he was young. Now the junior is 6-foot-5 and over 200 pounds, meaning Heaps could be known as the quarterback that played before Browne. Browne threw for 4,182 yards and 50 touchdowns in 14 games in 2010; he will need every one of those touchdowns again this year to keep Skyline in the fast lane to a state title.

4A FALLING DOWN: With the plethora of talent at Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes and the system of success at Bellevue (Wash.) High, this could be a season where the top teams are from the lower classification. Skyline, Bothell (Wash.) High and Spokane (Wash.) Ferris have all enjoyed the top spot in the state for the last few seasons but this could be a changing of the guard, if only for one year.

QUOTABLE: "They are building Max to be better than Jake was and that is not the case," one rival coach said. "It is wishful thinking at best."

Top 100 countdown
No. 88 La Salle, Pennsylvania
COACH: Drew Gordon
LAST SEASON: 13-2
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 4 in Pennsylvania

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Explorers plug the holes in its offensive line. Despite having one of the deepest rosters in the state, La Salle is losing a lot of quality players from the trenches. The team could have enough playmakers to get through District 12 without stellar play, but to win another state title it will need to be able to move the other team off the ball in Hershey, in December - and likely in the snow.

STRENGTH: La Salle is one of the deepest teams from the eastern side of the state, routinely having a roster of 85 kids or more - and it does not dress freshman. The overall quality and quantity of players that always come out to play for the team is one major reason why the team is always able to reload and compete for a state title.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Quarterback Matt Magarity took over the quarterback reigns last year and led the team to a solid season with much of the attention being paid to then-senior running back Jamal Abdur-Rahman. This year, Magarity is the unquestioned leader of the team and will need to step up his game to keep the ship sailing toward a title.

MUST STEP UP: Tim Wade is going to have to play a major role in replacing Abdur-Rahman for the Explorers to be successful. Abdur-Rahman rushed for over 1,700 yards and also was the team's second-best receiver. While most of the other targets return, Wade will be looked on to carry the majority of the rushing attack as well as be a threat out of the backfield. That is a lot to put on the 5-foot-9, 185 pounder.

Top 100 countdown
No. 87 Pulaski Academy, Arkansas

COACH: Kevin Kelley
LAST SEASON: 13-2
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 12 in Arkansas

KEEP AN EYE ON: The team's lack of punting. Pulaski Academy coach Kevin Kelley is becoming famous - or infamous - around coaching circles for his "no punt" philosophy. After an opponent took a punt back for a touchdown in his second game of the 2007 season, he decided to never punt again - save for preventing a blowout. Kelley cites a statistic that teams score 77 percent of the time when they start inside the opponent's 40 yard line versus 90 percent when they start inside the 10 (and the nominal 13 percent difference) as a reason to always go for it, even with its back against its own goal line. Those decisions could turn to gambles come state final time.

STRENGTH: Like many teams with high preseason expectations, Pulaski Academy returns a lot of starters - eight on offense and seven on defense - providing for an instant advantage against many opponents. The greatest position of advantage for Pulaski will be at linebacker, where the team returns all three starters (two juniors and a sophomore) for what could turn into a special team.

STAR OF THE SHOW: At just 5-foot-10, Fredi Knighten is not a most physically imposing presence on the football field, but his ability to run the offense is something to behold. The senior quarterback threw for over 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns last season. He has offers from Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech, but Kelley believes if he were 6-foot-1, he would have them from all over the country.

YOUNG STUD: At 6-foot and 220-pounds, Tyler Colquitt is a prototypical sized middle linebacker for most any high school team. As a freshman, he started in the middle of the defense and led the team in tackles. Now as a sophomore, much more is expected of him and many eyes will be on the youngster.

QUOTABLE: "This is a team that has all the makings," Kelley said. "I would go position for position with any team in this state. So long as I don't get in their way, I think we will be in for a special season."

Top 100 countdown
No. 86 Denton Ryan, Texas

COACH: Joey Florence
LAST SEASON: 15-1
FINAL 2010 RANKING:No. 12 in Texas

KEEP AN EYE ON: Who steps up at running back for the Raiders. Denton Ryan was offensively challenged in 2010 and the team lost both its quarterback and running back. Filling the spot left by Kaylon Alexander will be very difficult. While the defense is expected to shine again for Ryan, it will need to score more points, especially if it wants to get by Waco Midway - which will certainly be on its path to the state final again.

STRENGTH: While much has been written about many Texas teams forgetting how to play defense in the last few years, the boys at Ryan certainly did not. In 16 games last season, Ryan allowed just 13 points per game. That side of the ball also returns as many as five players who will be going on to Division I football, so the expectations that the defense will carry the team are there again.

STAR OF THE SHOW: It is a rarity when a Texas kid who is committed to Texas isn't the star of the team but at Denton Ryan that is the case, as Alex De La Torre is not the defensive star that steals the headlines. Mario Edwards, a Florida State commit, checks in as the No. 2 player in the entire country and is a force to be reckoned with from his defensive end position. As a junior, he recorded 127 tackles, 50 tackles for loss and 18 sacks. He is nearly unblockable even with the routine double team and chip blocks he faces.

BIGGEST THREAT: This is a dual threat for Denton Ryan. One thing that can hold the team back is in its own camp; the offense is going to need to produce more than it did in 2010. Despite scoring a lot of points in the regular season, the team went into a shell in the playoffs. Also, Waco Midway is a team on the rise, and although Ryan beat Midway in a 19-10 playoff slugfest in 2010, it could go the other way this year. Midway got a transfer in from Ohio, Jordan Darling, to play quarterback and he could be a difference maker.

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