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July 27, 2010

RivalsHigh 100: Teams 85-81

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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 85-81

Top 100 countdown
No. 85 Richmond, North Carolina

COACH: Paul Hoggard
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 4 in North Carolina

KEEP AN EYE ON: How this team comes together, as that will be the defining item for its success. Coach Paul Hoggard said that this is nowhere close to the most talented team he has coached at Richmond, but then quickly pointed out he thought that same thing about his 2008 team which won the state title.

STRENGTH: The strength of the team will be the linebacking core, which returns intact. Typically Richmond runs a 4-3 defense which allows its linebackers to roam and make plays and that is what will need to happen for the squad to be successful.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Richmond uses an option football attack on offense which leads to big numbers for its running backs. This season, Walter Ellerby returns to lead that attack. Ellerby rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns last season and figures to equal or surpass those numbers.

STAYING THE COURSE: "This team is the only team I care about," Hoggard said. "Not to be disrespectful to what you guys (at Rivals) do, but I don't read the rankings and I don't read the newspapers. I don't keep up with other teams in the area, just ours and each week's opponent."

QUOTABLE: "If we can keep the kids focused we can keep them winning," Hoggard said. "We have a class of kids chomping at the bit right now to get on the field and show what they can do."

Top 100 countdown
No. 84 Glades Central, Florida

COACH: Jessie Hester
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 72 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the team responds to its new quarterback. Jamarious Rowley will be the new signal caller for the Raiders and has looked good around the 7-on-7 circuit. The team has rallied around Rowley and showed to be a force to be reckoned with.

STRENGTH: The strength of the team will be the skill position players. Glades Central generally has a ton of prospects and this year is no exception. Kelvin Benjamin, Neville Brown and Davonte Allen are all very legit prospects who can do a lot with the ball in their hands.

SHIFTING POSITIONS: The promotion of Rowley to quarterback from linebacker could be a make-or-break situation for the Raiders. Rowley, who stands just 5-foot-9 is a stocky, but confident player, who trusts the players around him. Whether the rest of the team falls in line to his leadership is yet to be seen.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Curiously enough, the Raiders will be without their star for the second half of the season. Benjamin is a 6-foot-6 stud wide receiver who will be passing the 19-year-9-month rule in October. Once he eclipses that mark, he will be ineligible to play with the team and will miss its playoff run. Florida Class 2A is not one that is easily won.

EARLY INDICATORS: The first week of the season is a showcase game with Dallas (Texas) Skyline. Glades Central is a small 2A school set to take on one of the largest schools in the Lone Star state. Glades' enrollment is 1,089 while Skyline checks in at 4,765.

Top 100 countdown
No. 83 East Grand Rapids, Mich.

COACH: Peter Stuursma
LAST SEASON: 14-0, Michigan Division 3 State Champions
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 37 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: The number of teams that can make East Grand Rapids throw the ball. Not too many have been able to in recent years. The team runs a pro-style offense but rarely puts the ball in the air. When it does, however, it has been successful.

HOW WILL THEY RESPOND? The offensive line took a major hit from last season and that will be the key to the team this year. To say the Pioneers are balanced would be a stretch, but they are equally strong passing and running. The line will need to come together and fast.

STRENGTH: Leadership is the key for the team and its true strength. The offensive side of the ball is dictated by its quarterback, Ryan Elble. The 5-foot-11 senior was 82-of-120 passing last year with 1,387 yards and 25 touchdowns. Defensively, Trent Voss is the guy the rest of the squad looks to. He plays outside backer at East Grand Rapids but is most likely a true inside backer in college. His toughness and physicality are impressive.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Elble is more of a star on the baseball field, but has been a shining spot on the gridiron as well. While the team likes to run a lot, if someone keys on stopping the run, Elble can go to the air. In the state championship game, he threw for more than 250 yards and three touchdowns.

QUOTABLE: "I know it is cliché, but we don't look ahead," coach Peter Stuursma said. "I didn't know who we played in week two until two days ago when I had to make out a schedule for out booster club. Me, and the team, are only talking about Jenison (in Week 1)."

Top 100 countdown
No. 82 Folsom, California

COACH: Kris Richardson
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 29 in California

KEEP AN EYE ON: Quarterback Dano Graves, who threw for 66 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards last season, pacing the offense to the tune of more than 50 points per game. Graves stands just 5-foot-9 but was voted the Sacramento quarterback of the year in 2009. His only current offer is from Sacramento State but could earn more with his play this season.

STRENGTH: This Folsom team is blessed with plenty of skill players. According to coach Kris Richardson, the best player on the field is Tyler Trosin. He is joined by Kori Babineaux and Jordan Richards as the trio makes up the talent surrounding Graves.

SHARING THE BALL: With this many players that can score, sharing the ball is a pleasure. Last season, both Trosin and Babineaux had more than 1,000 yards receiving and Richards piled up 900 yards rushing and 900 yards receiving.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Richardson has a good problem with this many talented athletes on the field but, according to the coaching veteran, one does stand out. "Tyler never comes off the field," he said. "In all my years of coaching he is the best I have been around."

QUOTABLE: "I have been around the area coaching for 15 years," Richardson said. "And this year there are some of the best teams I can remember. Sacramento football is getting better with Del Oro, Granite Bay, us, and Grant. The kids are working harder to get better. They are working year round now and it really shows."

Top 100 countdown
No. 81 Austin Westlake, Texas

COACH: Darren Allman
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 68 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Chaparrals replace all-state quarterback Tanner Price and all-state linebacker Bryce Hager, which will go a long way in determining the success or failure of this team. Westlake doesn't have much time to figure things out as it plays Class 4A power, and nationally ranked, Austin Lake Travis to open the season.

STRENGTH: The offense returns seven starters from a squad that averaged almost 35 points per game last season, including Van Gramann at running back. Gramann eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark and will be a focal point of the offense. Colin Shaw and Lewis Guilbeau both come back as the key members of the receiving core.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Preston Dewey is going to be thrust into a very prominent role this season going from backup quarterback to guiding a team with very high expectations. He has had a very strong offseason and looks poised to keep the team in the forefront of the national landscape and ready to make another deep run into the playoffs.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED: Westlake struggled on pass defense last season and that area will be tested early against pass-happy Lake Travis. The secondary brings back Cambell McCrea and Sean Potter, but with the results from last season that may not necessarily be a good thing. Westlake gave up 324 points last season, and that's a number that has to improve.

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