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July 27, 2011

RivalsHigh 100 Countdown: Nos. 80-76

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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 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 | Rankings schedule

Top 100 countdown
No. 80 Pearland, Texas

COACH: Tony Heath
LAST SEASON: 16-0, won Texas UIL Class 5A Division I state championship
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 7 in RivalsHigh 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether Pearland can fill in the spots left by the now-graduated Dustin Garrison and Trey Anderson at running back and quarterback respectively. The two were the playmakers for the team - along with Sam Ukwuachu on defense - and they will be sorely missed. Pearland made a serious run through the playoffs with wins over Katy and Euless Trinity to win the state title and needed a perfect game to beat Trinity in the final. Not having those two players would have made that run hard to fathom. This year they will have to go without them from Day One.

STRENGTH: Learning how to win and what it takes from beginning to end to make it happen is invaluable. The players on the team saw what the players in front of them did and how good those players were; in turn, they now know what they need to do to make it happen. The knowledge and the execution are different but the team is likely to have fully bought in to what coach Tony Heath is teaching at this point. Also, it is likely that Katy will fall back down to the Division II group this year and that could take a team out of the path to repeating.

STAR OF THE SHOW: With the loss of so much Division I talent from last year, one of the lone prospects this year is in the middle of the Oiler defense, linebacker Kendall Ehrlich. The No. 75 player in the state of Texas, Ehrlich has offers from all over the Southwest and extending from Boise State to Louisville.

DRILLING FOR RESPECT: Pearland has ended two of the past three seasons inside the RivalsHigh 100 but it is still not a team that has the cache of some of the other programs in the area. With a manageable schedule, the team could keep its blemish-free record intact until the middle rounds of the playoffs.

Top 100 countdown
No. 79 St. Thomas More, Louisiana

COACH: Jim Hightower
LAST SEASON: 13-1
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 4 in Louisiana

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Cougars replace the vast majority of their defense. With only three returning starters - Griffen DeJean, Andrew Mahtook and Beau Brodhead - it could be a rocky start for St. Thomas More. A move down from 5A to 4A will not make it easier on the team as the out-of-conference schedule includes Westgate, Barbe and Evangel Christian before seeing Breaux Bride, Northside and Teurlings in district play. Defensive end Bobby Broussard and linebacker Gage Robino will have to step up in a big way.

STRENGTH: With the question marks on defense, St. Thomas More will have to rely on a steady and productive group returning on offense. The spread based attack will return seven starters, including its quarterback, Brandon Bergeron, and top two running backs, Jon Juneau and Matt Flores.

STAR OF THE SHOW: This is a team that could enter the year without a player holding a Division I offer. It is a more complete team mentality than what the sum of the parts should indicate, but running back Flores is the star. Flores was named the district MVP in his junior season, piling up 1,272 yards rushing and scoring 22 touchdowns. He also added 203 yards receiving.

RECLASSIFYING: This season, St. Thomas More will move back to Class 4A from 5A. If that seems like a reason for automatic success, it may not be as the top of Class 4A has been as competitive as any in the country. Moving down with it will be St. Augustine, which coach Jim Hightower said was the best team they saw in the 5A playoffs last year.

QUOTABLE: "It is my philosophy to schedule tough games," Hightower said. "There is no reason to just look for easy wins. Of course I don't know if I would have any other choice since it isn't like teams are begging to play us."

Top 100 countdown
No. 78 Edna Karr, Louisiana
COACH: Jabbar Juluke
LAST SEASON: 13-2
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 6 in Louisiana

KEEP AN EYE ON: The team's brutal schedule. Karr has put together one of the most challenging schedules in the country. Playing Arlington (Texas) Bowie at Cowboys Stadium is a good measuring stick game early. The team follows it up with games with state powers Destrehan, Salmen, McDonogh 35, Shaw and O. Perry Walker. Even the games that could normally be marked down as wins - Cox and Belle Chasse - will be tough.

STRENGTH: For a team with a plethora of athletes on the roster, the strength needs to be the guys on the line and fortunately both sides of the ball has anchors. Derek Edinburgh, an LSU commit, is a 6-foot-8 tackle that carries his more than 300-pounds very well. Leonard Washington, a Division I prospect, will be playing down at defensive tackle and can disrupt pass and run plays for Karr. With Darrian Dyson and Gerald Willis on the defensive side, the line could be a force.

STAR OF THE SHOW: It may be a youngster that is the best player on the field for Karr as Class of 2014 defensive end Willis is starting to get a lot of attention. Last season, as a freshman and mostly as a backup on the varsity team, he recorded 10 sacks. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, he may be the next pick think. Coach Jabbar Juluke called him a "mean son of a gun" and that he has "all the intangibles to be a great player."

COACH 'EM UP: One of the rising stars in the coaching ranks is Juluke. He has the passion and knowledge of the game to make Karr a consistent threat to win the state title. New Orleans is a hotbed for talent and if Karr can continue to develop young players, this could be the next Louisiana dynasty.

QUOTABLE: "Our goal is to put a good product all the time," Juluke said. "We want to be a team that is fundamentally sound and plays as fast as we possibly can. We don't want to have a team for three years, but be a good program year in and year out."

Top 100 countdown
No. 77 Lakes, Washington
COACH: Dave Miller
LAST SEASON: 11-2
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 11 in Washington

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether Lakes can live up to its expectations. This team has a ton of high-profile players with Division I offers; it returns nine starters on both sides of the ball as well as both its kicker and punter. The expectation of "state title or bust" is a tough path to be put on so early, but as a preseason favorite, that is where the bar is set. The losses on both sides of the ball were on the line: two defensive linemen, a center and its right tackle. With a lot of talent returning, it is time to see if Lakes can take the next step.

STRENGTH: Off of normal analytics, this team could rotate two quarterbacks and still call it the strength of the team. With four-star athlete Cedric Dozier being a three-year starter at the position, he likely will take the majority of the snaps. Dozier, however, is more of a Wlidcat-style quarterback with a limited passing acumen. Fellow senior David Wood (6-4, 225 lbs.) has a better arm, meaning Dozier could slide to the slot receiver position if the gameplan calls for it. The Lakes team was heavy run in 2010, which allowed for Bellevue to shut it down in the state playoffs. Finding more balance is a goal for the year and a strong platoon at quarterback can provide that.

STAR OF THE SHOW: With two players inside the Rivals250, it is hard to single out one as the star. Offensively, the leader of the team is Dozier. The four-star athlete is a vocal leader for the team and can play all over the field. The No. 31 player in the country, Zach Banner, also is a passionate player and, at 6-foot-9, a very physical presence. The pair - teamed with Ma'ne Manaea, Zaheer Webb and Levonte Littlejohn - make up the core of the team full of stars.

QUOTABLE: "We were really young last year but obviously talented," coach Dave Miller said. "This year we are experienced and our talented kids all got better. I would say that anything less than a state title is really a disappointment. It may be a failure if we don't win it."

Top 100 countdown
No. 76 Aloha, Oregon

COACH: Chris Casey
LAST SEASON: 13-1, won Class 6A state championship
FINAL 2010 RANKING: No. 1 in Oregon

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether Aloha is able to replace its offensive line. The team has lost a majority of the players from its front line. While it may not have been a spectacular group, it was experienced - and that counts for a lot in high school football. Returning on the line is junior Brayden Kearsley, a 6-foot-5 masher, to headline the unit that will need to plug holes.

STRENGTH: Speed and more speed. The Aloha team is loaded with athletes and has a couple of blazers that can run by most any defender. With Jesuit, Sheldon and Lake Oswego all being in the mix for the top spot in Oregon, the sheer athletic ability of this team is what gives it the tipping point.

STAR OF THE SHOW: By now most everyone in the Pacific Northwest has heard of Thomas Tyner. Soon the rest of the nation will be clued in to one of the best and easily the fastest players in the nation. The 6-foot, 200-pound running back finished second in the 100m at the National Junior Olympic Track & Field event and has an electronic 4.38 40-yard dash in on his resume. On the football field, he has gashed very good teams like Portland Jesuit to the tune of 378 yards and three touchdowns in one game.

QUOTABLE: "The best way I can describe Thomas Tyner is that he's a difference-maker," Ken Potter, head coach of Portland (Ore.) Jesuit, said. "I've been coaching in Oregon a long time and we haven't seen very many backs like him here. He's the kind of running back that you only typically see or hear about in places like Texas, Florida or California."

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