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July 29, 2010

RivalsHigh 100: Teams 65-61

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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 has begun its 2010 countdown, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.

We started at No. 100 on Monday 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 Monday, Aug. 9 - two weeks from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Sept. 1 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.

In case you missed it: Previous ranking groups | Post your thoughts about teams 65-61

Top 100 countdown
No. 65 Jenks, Oklahoma

COACH: Allan Trimble
LAST SEASON: 13-1
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 70 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the team responds to having coach Allan Trimble back on the sidelines. The team lost Trimble midway through last season amidst allegations of recruiting violations, and had an up-and-down end to the season which saw one of the worst losses in school history at the hands of rival Tulsa (Okla.) Union in the state finals. Trimble was reinstated after the season and will be back at full capacity steering the ship in 2010.

STRENGTH: Much like its rival, the mystique of taking on Jenks has won more than a handful of games for Jenks before the ball was even snapped. The program is such that it reloads each year, and the younger players know what that means and what to expect. With one of the finest high school football facilities in the country, the program is a greased wheel right now.

STAYING LOCAL: With having one of the best high school football factories in the nation right in its backyard, the University of Tulsa has often dipped its toes into the talent pool of the local teams. This year is no different, with two current Jenks players committing to play with the Golden Hurricanes. Zack Langer, a 6-foot, 190 pound running back and Trent Martin, a 6-foot-2, 220 pound linebacker will both be playing in front of the local fans next year.

TALENT DOWN? It seems the rumor of perennial programs' demise happens all over the country, but maybe no more so than that in the land of Jenks and Union. And entering this season, many pundits are saying that this is not the Jenks of old. While many of the top-flight talents may not be there as in years past, the rules of solid fundamental football remain the same and Jenks still plays that style of ball.

Top 100 countdown
No. 64 Don Bosco, New Jersey

COACH: Greg Toal
LAST SEASON: 12-0
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 1 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: The massive turnover of talent at Don Bosco. To say there will be some new faces on the field for the Iron Men may be one of the biggest understatements of the countdown. The reigning national champs lost seven players on the defensive side of the ball alone to Division I programs. It also lost two offensive linemen - one to Pittsburgh and the other to Richmond - and many other players to graduation. The turnover at Don Bosco is something that may be too tough to overcome, even for one of the nation's best programs.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Slightly by default but also by merit, Gary Nova earns the team's top billing, returning at quarterback and leading the team onto the field. Nova is a good leader and a field general. Winning a national title last year will give the team confidence in him and what he tells them in the huddle. Already committed to Pitt, Nova has the freedom to relax and just play football without the pressure of recruiting complicating matters.

IS THIS THE YEAR? For nearly the past decade, Don Bosco has ended the season atop the New Jersey state rankings in high school football, due in large part to having the most talented team each year. For the first time in a long time, Don Bosco is not only not the most talented team in the state, it might actually be third or even fourth on the talent list.

JUNIOR CLASS: The time to step up is now. There are plenty of open spots to be had on the field and the junior class is showing to be pretty strong. The offensive line will be strong and, on the defensive side of the ball, Darius Hamilton at defensive end and corner Elijah Shumate are already pulling in attention - especially Shumate who may be one of the best cover guys on the East Coast for the 2011 season.

Top 100 countdown
No. 63 Dr. Phillips, Florida

COACH: Dale Salapa
LAST SEASON: 11-1
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 20 in Florida

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether or not this is the year for the Panthers to take the next step. At one point last year, Dr. Phillips was a team on the brink of getting significant national play. But a tough shootout loss to nearby Apopka cost it that chance and ended its season. With potentially nine players in the running for Division I scholarships this year, this may be one of the most talented teams in Central Florida.

STRENGTH: Do not try to pass on Dr. Phillips in 2010. The secondary for this team is one of the best in the country. Hasean Clinton-Dix, Roderick Ryles, and LaQuentin Smith are all Rivals.com-rated players with two of them - Clinton-Dix and Ryles - already committed to SEC schools. All three can burn and run in the 4.55 range, and Clinton-Dix is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the state.

STAR OF THE SHOW: On a team of supreme athletes, it is running back Demetrius Hart that is the star here. Hart is a four-star player and rated as the No. 34 overall prospect in the country. He is down to Alabama, Auburn and Michigan for his college choices and is prepared to be a December graduate to enroll early at whichever school he picks. Hart had one of his best games in October against Orlando (Fla.) Evans when he rushed for 246 yards and four scores as well as breaking a 64 yard punt return for a touchdown accounting for all the team's touchdowns in the win.

QUOTABLE: "Not only are there a lot of long rangy athletes on the field for Dr. Phillips, there are a lot of players that can be used in a number of different ways," Rivals.com Southeastern analyst Barton Simmons said. "A loaded secondary on defense and an offense that has home-run capabilities behind (Demetrius) Hart make this team a tough matchup for anybody."

Top 100 countdown
No. 62 Union, Oklahoma

COACH: Kirk Fridrich
LAST SEASON: 13-1, Oklahoma Class 6A State Champs
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 25 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: A player that is off the radar for Union in running back Jalen Hearron. Hearron is just 5-foot-7, but he is a bowling ball of a back at 180 pounds. Hearron has a lot of power for a guy of his stature but, according to coach Kirk Fridrich, still has all of the stops, starts, and quick cuts one would expect from a scat back.

STRENGTH: One of the biggest strengths for Union is the uniform it puts on. That is nothing to take away from the work the team puts in, but the mystique of playing against Union does psych out some opponents.

STAR OF THE SHOW: The focus of the team will be on Kale Pearson. According to Fridrich, Pearson will be moving from wide receiver to quarterback, and with that comes the responsibility of leading the team. Fridrich thinks the move will be a success due to his senior's ability to distribute the ball well and make plays with his feet.

REPS FOR ALL: Union graduated a very talented group of seniors last season but still returns five starters on offense and five on defense. But more than that, the team was able to get its backups a lot of reps last year, which is something that the coach thinks is a fact that often goes overlooked.

QUOTABLE: "It has been us or Jenks for 15-odd years," Fridrich said. "So, of course, we won the last two, so we don't want anything to change. But Southmoore, Mustang, and Broken Arrow are right there in the mix. But when it comes to playoff time it is sometimes about having a group of seniors that believes they belong in the finals. We want to continue that tradition."

Top 100 countdown
No. 61 Tampa Jefferson, Florida

COACH: Michael Fenton
LAST SEASON: 12-2
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 27 in Florida

KEEP AN EYE ON: The team's defense. Tampa Jefferson will be airing it out on most downs this season and shootouts could ensue. The defense played well at times last year, but against the better competition from its schedule (Tampa Hillsborough, Tampa Plant and Pensacola High), it didn't fare so well. If the Dragons think they have a legit chance to knock off Pensacola in 3A, the defense will need to come to the party each week.

STRENGTH: The receiving core at Jefferson will be tough to cover. The team has a pair of three-star route runners who both go 6-foot-1 with 4.5 speed. Andre Davis may be the player who gets the headlines, but teammate Chris Moore is emerging as a player who could be just as good, and some think better.

PRESSURE IS ON: Fans of Jefferson are thinking that this is the year for the team to make some noise, and quarterback Quentin Williams will feel the heat if the team doesn't perform. With two talented receivers at his side, as well as the ability to make plays happen with his feet, Williams will be looked upon to keep the sticks moving and the scoreboard operator busy.

QUOTABLE: "If you're playing Tampa Jefferson, you better be ready to defend the pass," Rivals.com Southeastern analyst Barton Simmons said. "Andre Davis is the big name in the Jefferson receiving corps but teammate Chris Moore is a sleeper and may be just as good."

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