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July 28, 2010

RivalsHigh 100: Teams 75-71

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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 75-71

Top 100 countdown
No. 75 Hermitage, Virginia

COACH: Patrick Kane
LAST SEASON: 10-2
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 11 in Virginia

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether or not Hermitage can get over the hump. This is a team that has had expectations before and has not capitalized on them. Winning a state title would silence a lot of doubters and this appears to be the team's best chance to do it. With a plethora of talent returning on defense and the district player of the year on offense, it looks like this is the year for Hermitage.

STRENGTH: The defense and its blitzes are the straw that stirs the drink for this team. Virginia commit Diamonte Bailey set the single season sack record in the state last year, while linebacker Curtis Grant is one of the best in the country, let alone state or region. The team usually runs a base 4-3 or sometimes a 4-4 front and will bring the heat on 80 percent of its plays.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Being one of the best players in the country automatically thrusts you into the spotlight on your team. Such is the case for Grant, a 5-star linebacker. Grant, who is ranked No. 8 nationally and the No. 1 player at his position, has a host of offers for his talent after his high school days are over.

QUOTABLE: "When you look at our defense it is a done deal," coach Patrick Kane said. "That side of the ball doesn't worry me at all. Right now we will need our quarterback to come back and be more efficient and effective than last year. We run the spread and like to throw, so another year in the system should be good for him."

Top 100 countdown
No. 74 Northwestern, S.C.

COACH: Jimmy "Moose" Wallace
LAST SEASON: 9-6
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 8 in South Carolina

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Trojans start the season. Northwestern brings back most of the same team that it had last season - a season that ended with a state title game loss. However, it got off to a slow start, losing five of its first six games and not scoring more than 14 points in any of the losses. After that, though, the team got on a roll and went on a big winning streak. The Trojans could make it easier on themselves by starting the season stronger and avoiding the late-season drama.

STRENGTH: South Carolina is a state that is very strong in 2010. Teams like Byrnes, Dorman, Gaffney, South Pointe and Myrtle Beach among others all have high aspirations. For a team like Northwestern, which relies on its offense, the defensive line may actually be the strength of the team. Roderick Byers and Gerald Dixon are both major Division I prospects and can stuff the run or get after the passer. Both will need to be on point this year for the team from Rock Hill to make a run.

STAR OF THE SHOW: It's no secret that the Trojans use an all-out aerial attack. In fact, during one game last year, the defending team dropped all 11 players into coverage just to try to slow down the offense. And at the center of that prolific passing attack is quarterback Justin Worley, who has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes with a ton of touchdowns. The offensive spotlight will be squarely on him, and all the players on both sides of the ball know it.

SOUTHERN CHARM: South Carolina is a state that is typically in the middle of the road nationally for team talent. But this year, the Palmetto State is in a great spot to shine. Dorman, Byrnes, Gaffney, Myrtle Beach, Northwestern, Wren, Greenville, Dutch Fork, Goose Creek, North Augusta, Chester, and South Pointe could all fight for a spot in the national rankings, and that is an unusual amount of teams vying for consideration.

Top 100 countdown
No. 73 Northwestern, Florida

COACH: Billy Rolle
LAST SEASON: 10-2
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 14 in Florida

KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Bulls respond to losing to both Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington and Miami (Fla.) Central last season. All three of the Miami teams took turns in the Top 10 of the RivalsHigh 100 last year, but by season's end, none were ranked. After a disappointing campaign, the Bulls have to be ready to run this season.

STRENGTH: Talent, talent, and more talent is the name of the game for most teams in the Miami area and Northwestern has had some of the most talented teams in the country in the past five years. Entering the season, the Bulls will have two players committed to Miami, one to UCF, and three to Florida International. Odds are that three or four more seniors will have Division I offers before the season ends. If the team can avoid costly penalties and turnovers, a serious run can be made in the state.

STAR OF THE SHOW: This season, it is the Teddy Bridgewater show for Miami Northwestern. South Florida has not produced many solid quarterbacks recently and Bridgewater is trying to turn that tide. He is ranked the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the nation and will have the spotlight on him the entire year.

BREAKING BRIDGEWATER: While it is easy to want to compare Bridgewater to the previous Miami Northwestern quarterback, Jacory Harris, the comparisons end quickly after the fact they both played at Northwestern and they are both quarterbacks. Bridgewater has a bigger frame, wider shoulders, and longer arms. Harris was, and still is, very thin. Bridgewater can add on plenty of weight and play around 210 pounds. His high school career may not be as storied as Harris' was, but his college career could be better.

Top 100 countdown
No. 72 Chaparral, Arizona

COACH: Charlie Ragle
LAST SEASON: 13-1, Arizona Class 5A Division II State Champions
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 45 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: Whether or not Chaparral can play as the hunted. The team brings back plenty of experience and a lot of talent, so they certainly could win again. But defending a state title often requires more work than winning the first one. If the Firebirds are willing to put in the extra effort, they will be rewarded.

STRENGTH: The defensive line is just the beginning of the team's real defensive dominance. The defense brings back eight starters from the state championship team and coach Charlie Ragle thinks there are at least five Division I players on that side of the ball. Devonte Neal, only a junior, is as close to a shut down corner as you can get in high school.

STAR OF THE SHOW: On a team with plenty of stars, the one that shines the brightest is Andre Yruretagoyena. The 6-foot-5 monster anchors the offensive line and is the No. 81 player nationally. He committed to Oregon in June and looks like he is already in college playing shape.

QUOTABLE: "I feel like we have the deepest team we have had here at Chaparral," Coach Ragle said. "We feel like we have what it takes to compete for a state chmpionship, but obviously there is a lot to be decided on the field."

Top 100 countdown
No. 71 Stone Bridge, Virginia

COACH: Mickey Thompson
LAST SEASON: 13-2
FINAL 2009 RANKING: No. 87 in RivalsHigh Top 100

KEEP AN EYE ON: A defense which could be as good as any the program has had in a long time. Defensive end and Virginia commit Rob Burns is a 6-foot-8, 226-pound terror in the trenches. He's backed by an all-region linebacker in Kyle Gouveia, and Spenser Rositano, who is an all-state-caliber prospect in the secondary.

STRENGTH: The Bulldogs are among the very best in the Commonwealth at running the rock. Their single wing attack gives opposing defenses a look that they rarely see, and the program's ability to throw one big body after another into the fray allows them to slowly and methodically pound out yards, eat up clock and set up big play action passes. They averaged just 28 points per game last season, which was their lowest total in five years. It's likely that they will substantially improve upon that this season with the return of injured quarterback Brian Rody.

STAR OF THE SHOW: Class of 2011 running back Marcus Harris is a workhorse of a back with solid speed, outstanding vision with the ability to make people miss as well as the toughness to stick his nose in the mix to gain the tough third-and-short yardage. In his team's 15-10 state championship loss to powerhouse Hampton (Va.) Phoebus last season, Harris carried the ball 47 times for 194 yards and a touchdown to nearly help the Bulldogs pull out an upset win. He will lead a team looking to avenge that loss this season, and they are more than capable of pulling it off.

QUOTABLE: "Every year, regardless of graduation losses or changes in personnel in the program, Stone Bridge is a team that we have to consider a strong favorite to compete for a state championship," said VirginiaPreps editor Rod Johnson. "Coach Thompson returns a team this season with a vast amount of experience, a tremendous amount of pride in the program and a squad with a chip on their shoulder about losing a state championship game last season that they feel they should have won. They've got all the elements in place to make a deep postseason run and to grab their second state title in four years."

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