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July 25, 2012

Preseason RivalsHigh 100: Teams 75-71

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Dallas Jackson is the High School Football analyst for Rivals.com. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Rivals.com began its 2012 countdown Monday, ranking the teams from No. 1 through No. 100.

We started 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. 8 -- just 10 days from the start of the season.

After that, we will wait until Aug. 27 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.

View the complete rankings timeline if you missed anything | Final 2011 Expanded Rankings

Top 100 countdown
No. 75 Eastern Christian, Maryland

Coach: Dwayne Thomas
Last Season: N/A
Fast Fact: The majority of the players for Eastern Christian were at Delaware's Red Lion Christian last year. When the Red Lion administration decided to scale back from a national schedule to a local, Delaware-only schedule, more than 30 players left the school for the virtual program at Eastern Christian.
Key Player: Quarterback David Sills. There are likely double-digit players on the current roster who will play major college football but only Sills made headlines when he was offered and committed to USC when he was in seventh grade. While the offer and commitment were not binding at the time, it is certainly looking as though Sills is progressing like a USC-commit and both ends will be happy in the end.
The Good: All the top-end talent. It isn't just Sills, who will likely be among the top quarterbacks next season, but the team is loaded. Offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers is ranked at the No. 1 spot at offensive guard. Defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow is the No. 2 defensive end in the class. The team has three other FBS-level commitments at defensive back, wide receiver, and defensive tackle. There could be eight more commitments before National Signing Day.
The Bad: Is there any depth? While there is plenty of star power to be blinded by, are there enough quality football players surrounding that to be considered a legitimate team? In 2011, the team went 5-5 and lost against all established programs that it faced, while crushing the lesser opponents. While youth certainly plays a role in that, so does depth.
The bottom line: There are a lot of questions about this team, even if it checks in as the No. 3 team in Maryland. The talent is such that with enough quality wins, this could prove to be a Top 25 team when the season is over. The downside is that it could just be a glorified camp circuit squad that cannot come together. A national ranking could have been on a wait-and-see approach but it is too hard to ignore a team with this much talent on the roster.

Top 100 countdown
No. 74 Brother Rice, Michigan

Coach: Al Fracassa
Last Season: 10-4, Won Michigan Division 2 State Title. Ranked No. 3 in Michigan.
Fast Fact: Birmingham Brother Rice has played football since the 1962 season and has been coached by Al Fracassa since the 1969 season. The cumulative record at Brother Rice is 386-127 with Fracessa being responsible for a 260-96 mark.
Key Player: Quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria. Lacanaria had a little easier job last season with Devin Church in the backfield, but this year the quarterback will likely be asked to do a little more as the team will need to be more balanced. Lacanaria checks in at just 5-feet-8, but is mobile enough to create plays with his legs when the play or the pocket breaks down. To repeat in Michigan more will be on his shoulder than last season.
The Good: The linebackers. Despite losing two very good linebackers from last season the team returns Michigan State commit Jon Reschke and Lucas Cherocci who can each play their positions well. The defense and running attack is what paced the team in 2011 and it will have to do so again.
The Bad: Graduation and the schedule. Brother Rice lost a very talented senior class, including Devin Church who was the star of the show last year. It also lost two linebackers and two talented players in the secondary. The schedule does not set up for a clean sheet when the season is done even if a repeat of a title run is to happen. The Warriors will open with defending Division 1 title winner Cass Tech and then have to deal with a run against No. 98 De La Salle Collegiate and nationally relevant Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Detroit Catholic Central.
The bottom line: Brother Rice will likely not be an undefeated team come seasons end. There are too many holes to plug and too many good teams on the schedule to expose each and every hole. While the team will have the confidence that it can make stops and score point it also will have to prepare to battle in many games this year.

Top 100 countdown
No. 73 Mallard Creek, N. Carolina
Coach: Mike Palmieri
Last Season: 13-1, lost in North Carolina semifinals. Ranked No. 64 nationally.
Fast Fact: Mallard Creek began playing football in 2007 and has quickly become a hotbed for talented players as it has had eight players go on to FBS-level schools. This season it will likely send another five.
Key Player: Running back Jay Horton. There will be higher profile players taking the field for Mallard Creek this year, but the success of the team hinges on Horton. The 5-feet-9 back will be taking the place of Jela Duncan, who paced the offense last season but is now at Duke. Horton is an inch shorter and about 15 pounds lighter, but can still get the job done with the talent around him.
The Good: Outside the hash marks. Both on offense and on defense, the Mallard Creek players should have the advantage against jjust about any team. Four-star receiver Marquez North and three-star Jorian Jordan on offense are joined by four-star Brian Walker and three-star Anthony Covington in the defensive backfield. There are others in the mix at those positions adding to the depth, but the top end is as good as anywhere in the country.
The Bad: The trenches. With 12 senior football players in the Rivals.com database and nine more in the junior class, there is plenty of talent on the field. Of those 21, only two are playing on the line. While there could be quality high school football players on the roster taking those spots, it is hard to assume that what may be a patchwork line will be able to handle some of the athletes it will be facing.
The bottom line: Mallard Creek is likely a locked and loaded No. 2 team in North Carolina this year. It would not shock anyone if the team battled and beat Matthews (N.C.) Butler for the top spot, but entering the year it is the underdog in the contest. It is incredible what this program has been able to do in such a short period of time, making people all but forget about Charlotte Independence and really focus on the two-horse race between Butler and Mallard Creek.

Top 100 countdown
No. 72 Gilman, Maryland

Coach: Biff Poggi
Last Season: 10-1, Maryland Conference A Champion. Ranked No. 34 nationally.
Fast Fact: Head coach Biff Poggi has sent a trio of sons through the program and is entering the final year with his youngest. All three, Sam, Jim, and now Henry are going to have the chance to play college football. Sam played at Duke, Jim is at Iowa, and Henry is committed to Michigan.
Key Player: Quarterback Shane Cockerille. Gilman lost its top rusher and its top receiver from last season. So it will rely on defense and the game management of Cockerille, as well as the run game. The 6-foot-2 Maryland commit is entering his second year at the school after transferring from DeMatha when his former head coach, Bill McGregor, came to Gilman as an assistant.
The Good: The defense. The unit will be lead by Henry Poggi on the defensive line but he will have plenty of help on the next two levels of the defense. Linebackers Micah Kiser, Melvin Keihn, Miles Norris, and Ned Emala can all play and behind them are Troy Vincent, Wyatt Dickerson and Matt Tilley.
The Bad: Loss of skill players. The team will have a tough time replacing all-everything Cyrus Jones as well as running back Kenneth Goins, who have gone to Alabama and Maryland, respectively. There will be a combination of young players who can attempt to fill those holes, but many have argued that Jones was among the best to ever come through the school.
The bottom line: Gilman, like many East Coast powers who do not see top-tier competition in their district play, has scheduled a maniac first three games of the season. Gilman will open against Ohio's top team, Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller, before taking on the top school from Maryland, Good Counsel, and then hosting 2009 national champion and 2011 runner-up Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco. All three are nationally ranked, and ranked ahead of Gilman. Depending on how the games are played, this could be the first ever 0-3 team that stays nationally ranked.  

Top 100 countdown
No. 71 Neville, Louisiana

Coach: Mickey McCarty
Last Season: 14-0, Louisiana Class 4A State Champions. Ranked No. 54 nationally.
Fast Fact: Neville was one of three high school football teams from Monroe to win a state title in 2011, joined by West Monroe and Ouachita Christian. It was the highest ranked of the trio at season's end. It is also the highest ranked of a trio from Monroe entering this season, edging both West Monroe and Ouachita Parish in the national poll.
Key Player: Do-everything John Diarse. Diarse is listed in the Rivals.com database as a receiver, but it was a position he rarely saw last season as he spent most of his time at quarterback. He will enter this season in the same position, where he will make the decisions on who to throw to or to tuck and run. In 2011, he threw the ball 90 times for nearly 1,000 yards and rushed it 142 times for just over 1,200 yards.
The Good: Top-end talent. Between Diarse and Class of 2014 standout Laurence Jones, there will be few games where the best player on each side of the ball isn't wearing a Neville jersey. The team turns over the normal amount of players and has had a history of success, so the fact that the best players are back is a great start.
The Bad: The trenches. This has been a weakness for the team before, and it was able to overcome, but entering the season it could be more of a worry than normal. The season opener against West Monroe will be a tremendous test to see if the line can hold up throughout the season -- including a run through the Class 4A playoffs.
The bottom line: Neville is not the favorite to win the state title this year and that could ease the pressure in the early going. The season opener against West Monroe will be a telling game for the trenches and the game three weeks later against Ouachita Parish will be a test for the entire defense. If the team can make it through those games, it will be a major confidence boost heading into the back end of the regular season.

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